Having a panic attack is a scary experience, and it is the result of the accumulation of anxiety and stress. Here are 5 tips that could help you manage them.
I was on a flight back to Dubai when I suddenly felt dizzy and out of breath. “I can’t breathe,” I told my brother who was sitting next to me; he looked at me with a confused look and went back to watching a movie. I don’t blame him; even I was confused about what was happening to me. After talking to a flight attendant she suggested to give me some oxygen. Negative thoughts were whirling in my head – was I dying? Was I ill? The oxygen mask wasn’t helping so I went back to my seat and tried to be relaxed for the rest of the flight.
Well, I came to understand that what I had experienced was a panic attack. And for me, it was only one of many to come. At the time, I was in my last year of school, and I was stressed because of my upcoming final exams. I continued to suffer from panic attacks during the rest of the school year and for some time during university. I realized that I had always been someone who was anxious about the future, and that anxiety is what brought on these panic attacks. So what exactly is a panic attack?
A panic attack “is a sudden episode of intense fear that triggers severe physical reactions when there is no real danger or apparent cause”, according to Mayo Clinic. When you have a panic attack you may feel the urge to escape the place or situation that you are in and this is called the “fight or flight” response, in which the brain gives the body a message that it is in danger and in need of protection.
So what are the symptoms of a panic attack? The symptoms are not the same for everyone but the most common symptoms are: a choking sensation, lack of breath or quick breathing, increasing heart rate, sweating, trembling, and feeling nauseous or faint. You may also feel a strong feeling of dread or that you are losing control or dying.
As you can imagine, having a panic attack is a scary experience. Many people who experience panic attacks may think that they are having a heart attack or that they are physically ill. Someone who lives in the fear of having recurring panic attacks may develop a panic disorder, which may require medical attention depending on its severity.
Panic attacks do not happen to everyone but for those who experience it regularly, it may impact their ability to lead a normal life. I am not an expert on anxiety disorders but I would like to share with you my personal tips on how to deal with anxiety in order to prevent panic attacks, especially since we all deal with stress in life whether from work, studying, or even family.
- Cut off or limit your contact with any negative people or things in your life. You may not even realize how much impact negativity can have on your life until you shut it out and focus on being positive.
- Find a source of happiness or positivity in your life; it may be a person that makes you happy, a pet, a place, a hobby, or even your religion. Once you find that source, you need to invest some of your time in maintaining this source.
- Be active for at least 30 minutes a day. You could take a walk, do a workout, or you can try doing yoga, which will help you relax. When your body is healthy, your mind will become healthy too. Also, limit your caffeine intake; it may be making you more anxious.
- Keep a journal or talk to someone who you trust about what makes you feel anxious. Letting things out will help you feel better and less anxious.
- You may want to see a therapist if all else fails or if anxiety is taking over your life. But remember to have faith in yourself and in God, because you will get through this.
Mariam Khalifa (@thesleepwriter)
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