Monday, 29 February 2016

How I am dealing with anxiety and panic attacks

Everyone feels a little anxious from time to time and that is normal, but a panic attack is often an extremely overwhelming feeling of anxiety and often very scary for the person experiencing it.

I have suffered from panic attacks since I think when I started secondary school and to be honest they have progressively gotten worse as I have got older. When I try to think about why that is I come to realisation that I am actually scared of having a panic attack- so I am panicking about having a panic attack which causes a panic attack! which is so silly but I guess I need to train myself out of being scared. The worst attack I have had actually resulted in an ambulance being called as I had almost passed out from being so breathless.

I have had countless panic attacks in public and these are most defiantly the worst.... or maybe they just seem the worst. They tend to progress a lot quicker than if I were alone which is probably heightened by the fact that people are looking or maybe I just think they are looking. I am no expert, if I were then I would banish my anxious thoughts and stop myself from panicking!
But I am hoping it is something I can teach myself and retrain my thoughts to cope with or perhaps even overcome.

A list of things that help me

1) Accept - I have found that if I feel panicky its best if I don't ignore it but reassure myself that no harm can come to me, it is anxiety and it will pass.

A top tip which actually came from my dad is to draw on experiences that I have been super anxious about and maybe even had a full blown panic attack from but then look at what has happened after- I may not of enjoyed the experience but I am still here, I came to no harm. I can then use this to help me in my next situation and reassure myself that I will be ok!

2) Live in the moment- When trying to pin point my anxiety a lot is actually caused by what I think could happen or worrying about an event I have in a weeks time, this type of worry is wasting my time as it may not even happen and all that anxiety could be unnecessary and cause me a lot of distress.

A technique which helps me get back into the moment is a cognitive behavioural technique. I focus my mind on what I can currently see, hear and smell at that precise moment it helps me to clear my mind of what might happen and focus on what is actually happening. Give it a try, it sounds so simple but has actually helped me in a number of panicky situations.

3) Coping mechanisms - Through my anxiety and panic attacks I do suffer a lot of physical side effects and this can escalate into a panic attack as I am embarrassed that people around me know I am feeling anxious.

My breathing becomes quicker and deeper and I can also feel a sudden lose of breathe, I have found it helpful to have chewing gum or a chewy sweet this can help distract myself from focusing so much on how quickly I may be breathing.
I also suffer from blotching and redness, I've not really found anything to hide this apart from the obvious of covering up or hiding!! But I think its something I have to accept just happens and there's no need for the thought of my red neck to cause me to have a panic attack it will soon fade and more often than not people are more worried about what they look like than what I do!

4) Focus on the positives- I have started a one line a day diary, a place to document one good or happy moment of my day. I've found this to really help me stop dwelling on the more anxious parts of my day and help me to feel a lot more positive and appreciate what I have and if I am having a particularity down day it is nice to take some time out and just flick through the pages of happy positive things that have happened.

This is a super personal post but I feel if I am going to overcome my fears it is best to start accepting them and start talking about it rather than bottling it all up which in turn makes me more anxious and withdrawn. I hope this might help anyone that may also suffer with anxiety and maybe if you have any other coping mechanisms you could share them to help me to!


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