Your heart is pounding so wildly, you look down at your chest to be sure the palpitations are not noticeable. You can’t stop trembling. Your breathing is quick and shallow, and you silently plead with yourself not to pass out. Your hands are sweating, and your skin is cold and clammy. Your ears look as red as they feel. Your eyes are darting around the doctor’s office, desperately seeking out an obscure seat where you can hide yourself from view. The familiar choking sensation sets in as you begin to feel detached, afraid and nauseated. If you didn’t know better, you would think you were having a heart attack, but you do know better. You’re having another full-blown panic attack.
What Can You Do?
The good news is panic attacks are treatable. They can be treated with medication in extreme cases, but most people can learn to control their anxiety naturally. The following tips and relaxation techniques will help you modify your behavior and ward off panic attacks.
Caffeinated beverages such as coffee, tea, and most soft drinks can spark panic attacks. Caffeine stimulates the nervous system, and causes racing heartbeat, rapid breathing and increased blood pressure. Smoking cigarettes produces the same symptoms. Avoid the use of cough syrup and other over the counter medications containing stimulants. Sports and energy drinks contain high levels of caffeine. If you are stressed or your anxiety level is high, these products will exacerbate the problem. Avoid them.
Practice Controlled Breathing
Deep breathing is a technique used to promote relaxation and alleviate stress. A helpful way to engage in deep breathing is to use the seven-second method. Close your eyes and begin by taking a deep breath through your nose for the count of seven. Hold that breath for the count of seven. Slowly release the breath through your mouth for the count of seven. Repeat the whole process several times, until your feel your heart rate slowing down.
Take a Yoga or Meditation Class
Yoga is a great way to control anxiety. The muscle relaxation techniques practiced in a yoga class help reduce stress and give you a sense of overall well-being. Yoga also focuses on breathing and meditation. Learning to breathe properly enhances health and fosters a quiet peaceful mind.
Get Plenty of Rest
Rest is essential to optimal physical and mental health. Getting plenty of rest is particularly important for people who suffer from panic attacks and struggle with uncontrolled anxiety. Treat yourself to at least 7, but preferably 8 hours of sleep every night.
Don’t Let Anxiety Control Your Life
Eat a healthy diet, get plenty of rest, and take care of yourself. Avoid negative or needy people if they seem to increase your stress level. Watch a funny movie or listen to music to lift your spirits when you’re feeling anxious. Most of all, take control of your anxiety, or it will take control of you.