By Elaine Ryan
Even though it may seem like panic attacks come out of the blue, there are usually early warning signs that, with practice, you can learn how to stop a panic attack.
Start to monitor your attacks and note what your early warning signs are.
Early warning signs
Possible early warning signs include,
- feeling a tightness in your chest
- noticing a change in your breathing
- feeling your heart beat faster
If you are unsure of your early warning signs, have a look at the list of symptoms of panic and anxiety and see if you notice if any of the symptoms listed occur before your panic attack.
When you have developed a list of early warning signs you are in a better position to stop your anxiety from developing.
What to do if you spot your early warning signs of panic and anxiety.
Remind yourself you are simply experiencing the effects of anxiety and that it will not harm you.
Start a mindfulness exercise such as the following one
Start by simply noticing your breath. This may be difficult at first, but this is why it is called a mindfulness practice. It does not have to be perfect each time you try it: you simply practice. If your breathing feels labored or fast or uncomfortable, just notice it and try not to engage your thought process as anxiety related thoughts may increase your anxiety. Previously on the site you may have read how our thoughts affect what we feel. If your mind is worrying about your breathing, just notice it for what it is. It is simply a thought in your head. Your thoughts are not you. They are just thoughts.
Start to count each out breath
breathe in, breathe out 1
breathe in, breathe out 2
breathe in, breathe out 3
breathe in, breathe out 4
breathe in, breathe out 5
Repeat this until the number 10 and start again with the number 1 through to 10.
Focusing on your breathing, with no judgement, and letting your thoughts come and go as they please will eventually calm your body and mind. If you feel other symptoms of anxiety while doing this, just notice them and bring your attention back to your breathing. If your heart is racing, just notice it racing and bring your attention back to counting your out breaths.
At first this may feel difficult, but with practice you will lower your anxiety.
This is a good exercise to do on a daily basis, not just when you feel your early warning signs of anxiety. Developing a daily practice will help you to lower your overall anxiety levels and make it less likely that you will experience a panic attack.
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