How do you cope with anxious situations?

I have trouble deciding whether to focus on my experience or think about something completely else during panic attacks. Do you focus on your breathing, beating the panic attack etc. or do you stop thinking about it and focus on something else?

I usually focus on the panic attack itself and observe it, breathing deeply, until it passes, but I've been thinking maybe there's another way to end the panic attack quicker?

18 Replies

  • Blowing into a paper bag is supposed to help. I find being alone makes it worse because of the fear o dying. Just having someone near even if they don't try and comfort you ad that can be annoying, us helpful. Best wishes.

  • Hi. Well during these panic attacks your brain is conjuring up all sorts of hogwash and driving you restless. Every thought that goes through our minds will make us feel a certain way. You could use CBT techniques and challenge those negative thoughts by substituting in more rational ones, giving your mind a break. Ask yourself is whatever it is gonna really happen? Chances are it's not; your brain is masterful at creating illusions and making you believe them. Deep breathing and staying in the moment is definitely something you should do. I try to take a really deep breath and just let it out and I do that several times. You could lie down and put on a hypnosis tape which will hold your hand and help you calm down as you drift off and awaken your internal sensations. Also, if you can immediately find something to turn your attention to that will serve as a distraction.

  • For me it's worst in social situations, especially for example in church, because you are supposed to follow a certain pattern of behavior - pray, stand up, sit down, kneel down etc. basically no freedom of choice, no way to escape without it being obvious and feeling everyone is judging me and thinking I'm crazy or something. I have incredible social anxiety that fuels up my panic attacks and agoraphobia - when I try to "remain in the situation" all I can think is OH MY GOD I AM IN THIS SITUATION RIGHT NOW THIS IS NOT A DRILL IT IS ACTUALLY HAPPENING and that freaks me out so much!! Creating worse panic than it already was!

    I have a wedding to attend very soon (I wrote a post about it if you'd like to read it) and the idea of going is giving me panic every single moment of every single day... I feel like I'm on deathrow. I have trouble standing - because of my dizziness and feelings of instability, I always think I'll faint so I feel the need to either sit down and calm down or go walk until it lets go of me, and I know there'll be a lot of standing at this wedding - standing in church, standing outside for pictures, standing in front of the restaurants to sip the welcoming drink and chat, all sorts of things "normal" people do all the time but freak the bejeezus out of me because I get so dizzy and panicky. Ugh.

  • Hello, I used to have the same fear while I was in church, but I figured I might as well give it to God. He sees you struggling and He'll give you the strength to make it through. I hate the feelings like I'll faint, it's the worst, but they always leave and after 2 years, I've still never fainted - even when I couldn't believe I was still standing- so just relax and know that when those smoke alarms go off, there's no real fire or danger anywhere.

  • Love your nickname haha very cool. And thanks for the advice, I know it always passes, but it's not a problem to tell yourself that after one or two panic attacks, try telling yourself that for the whole duration or mass, or like I'll have to, a whole night of socialising!

  • Thank you, Sweetlolly11. I feel your pain, I've had to endure concerts and weddings before and it's a trick to find comfort. What I have to do is replace my negative thoughts with positive ones. And that's hard too because I usually am not thinking anything negative or fretting, but a physical symptom appears and I just have to explore it and keep moving

  • Exactly!! Usually I just sit there minding my own business, no bad thoughts whatsoever, but all of a sudden a dizzy spell hits me, or weak legs, or something like that and it just brings on everything bad with it and I can't cope sometimes :( it's just hard to be tough all the time, I feel like I need a break from it!

  • Have you ever fainted from it?

  • No, never, and I'm hoping I never will. Have you?

  • Nope :)

  • Sweetlolly11, are you taking any medications? they might be able to ease those feelings of dizziness and general feelings of lethargy.

  • Sometimes I take a benzo to calm myself down, but they are actually known to cause dizziness sometimes as a side effect. But I'm not even in therapy

  • Yes! Recognize what it is, then occupy your mind. Make sure to breath deeply but also just go do something simple. Folding clothes, counting money, organizing something, a desk drawer or clothes, clean room, something quiet with no pressure that you can do. Hope this helps. :)

  • Yes I know all that usually helps, but I'm thinking situations when you just can't do anything - like riding a bus, or attending a wedding, concert, anything social like that

  • I use essential oils to calm me down on the go. Try that maybe?:)

  • Like which ones?

  • Normally firing a panic attack it's hard to focus elsewhere , but if you can do it, it will get your mind headed in a better direction

  • My wife came up with a genius way to fight off panic attacks.

    She told me to think about how to rearrange the furniture in our living room to maximize space and utility. It sounds silly, but it takes a lot of concentration to actually do it.

    you have to clear the room in your mind, and then place every piece of furniture back in a different way that makes sense.

    Try it next time, it may help! It's basically an exercise in mindfullness.

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