Take It Slowly
When we have a panic attack, our heart rate and breathing speed up. Our brains can go at lightning speed – so fast that we can’t even read the thoughts whizzing round, never mind make sense of them. Once a panic attack is over, it’s helpful to take our recovery slowly. We don’t normally need to rush straight into doing lots of different things – taking a few deep breaths, sitting down, and pausing what we’re doing for at least five minutes before we get going again can give us some much-needed brain space. When we do start going back to whatever it is we were doing, we don’t need to jump back into lots of different things straight away. We can just take it one thing at a time, and if it feels like too much then we can stop and take some more time out. A panic attack can leave us feeling really drained and very tired. It’s absolutely okay to do what we need to do to look after ourselves, even if that means reducing the amount that we try to get done that day.
Have A Drink
Drinks can be really soothing. The sensation of drinking a hot or cold drink can help to ground us. Hot drinks can be very comforting and cold drinks can be very refreshing. Panic attacks can often dry our mouth out and cause us to sweat which can leave us feeling dehydrated, so drinking can help with this too. It’s worth being aware that it’s often best to avoid caffeine or alcohol after a panic attack because caffeine is a stimulant which can leave us feeling more anxious, and alcohol can be a depressant.
Panic attacks can be draining. We can feel devoid of any energy in the aftermath of one so sometimes we need to eat something to pick ourselves back up. Not only can the boost of energy help us to recover from a panic attack, but the sensation of tasting, chewing, and swallowing can give us something to focus on, which can help us to calm down and breathe more steadily.
Popping on our favourite comfy clothes or snuggling under our softest blanket can feel like a hug. It’s a way of being kind to ourselves – it can help us to feel looked after and cared for. After a panic attack, we often feel quite fragile and need that extra little bit of self-kindness. If we’re out and about and can’t snuggle under our favourite blanket, then perhaps we could keep a comforting jumper or scarf in the boot of our car or in our bag. Sometimes that’s not possible, but we can still wrap ourselves in our most comforting item once we get home.
We often have stimulation coming at us from all sorts of places. This could include things like light, phone notifications, TV, a computer screen, conversation, the radio, the feeling of different clothes on our skin, and things that we can smell. All of this information can be particularly overwhelming when we’re already incredibly anxious. Trying to reduce the amount of stimulation around us can help us to feel calmer. We could do this by trying things like lowering the lighting, putting our phone on silent, turning off the TV, computer, or radio, and using a weighted blanket.
Talk To Someone
After a panic attack, talking to someone can often be helpful. It can be helpful to talk about things which could have contributed to our panic attack and could contribute to another panic attack. Having the space to talk to someone about what we’ve experienced and the thoughts we’ve been having can provide another perspective on our anxieties. It can also help us to problem solve and to find ways of coping with things that we’ve been struggling with. Sometimes we might not want to talk about our struggles and talking about something totally different can be a welcome distraction. Everyone is different and there will probably be times when we don’t want to speak to anyone at all, but having a list of people we can call on gives us the option should we want it.
Once we’ve recovered from a panic attack and had a bit of time out, it can be helpful to reflect on what happened, either alone or with someone else. Reflecting on what may have triggered the panic attack, the way we coped with it, and whether or not this way of coping was helpful, can help us to cope with future panic attacks in a way that is helpful to us. Identifying our triggers can be helpful because it allows us to learn how to manage them. When it comes to coping with a panic attack, we will often have learned some helpful and perhaps some less-helpful ways to manage them. Reflecting on the way we coped with a panic attack can allow us to build on our helpful coping mechanisms which will hopefully help us to phase out our less-helpful coping mechanisms.
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