Panic attacks? How to actually not panic.

Gabriel Matula unsplash

We look at treat­ing anxi­ety like a con­di­tion that can go away.

We are not wired for pan­ick­ing to go away.

Anxiety is here to help. It is here to stay.

The chal­lenge is our fear response is very general.

Our eyes or mind per­ceive a threat.

It tells our fear centre, the amygdala.

The amy­g­dala is respons­ible for keep­ing us safe.

It tells the brain to talk to the body, to release adren­aline and cortisol and ini­ti­ates a series of reac­tions that allow our body to get more air, see light more clearly, not to feel pain… all so we can stay alive, if we are in grave danger.

There is truly no dif­fer­ence between scary thoughts (shame, fear, fail­ure, dis­ap­point­ment, heart­break) that activ­ate our self-pro­tec­tion and run­ning from some­thing scary, when the body is concerned.

So, what do you do?

Accept the physical discomfort

Panic attacks feel uncom­fort­able. We don’t need ALL of that adren­aline when we’re freaked out about a dead­line at work, but here it is.

  1. Take a breath (or put your head between your knees)
  2. Drink some water
  3. Go out­side. Being in nature is not airy-fairy — we get more oxy­gen, we can see light, we can take a breather.
  4. Tell your­self some­thing com­fort­ing. Examples: I am safe, I love _​_​_​_​_​_​_​, I can get through this, I under­stand this.

Confronting the scary thoughts

  1. What is hap­pen­ing that we feel fear­ful? Can we think that we might be hav­ing a tough time? Is this our body’s call for sup­port and attention?
  2. When we see our fears show up, is this recent or is this some­thing that has been build­ing for awhile?
  3. How do these fears show up? Body sen­sa­tions? Intrusive thoughts? Oppressing emo­tions? Are there par­tic­u­lar aspects to these fears that are more dis­tress­ing than others?


We know that pan­ic is to help. Let it be the dir­ec­tion that we fol­low to get the help we need.

Nourishment of the self.

Kindness to our experience.

Knowing this will pass.

Big hugs to you.

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