If you wait until the last minute, as in when you are actually having a panic attack, before planning a course of action then of course things will get ugly. You will be afraid, feeling a rush of different emotions, and probably be unable to take even one step. Therefore it is best to think up a working plan for surviving a panic attack well in advance. Having a definite plan of action will teach you how to cope with your symptoms and possibly even reduce the total number of panic attacks you have.
The first step is to control your breathing. One of the first symptoms you may upon suffering an attack is a shortness of breath. Therefore, when you’re actually having an attack, frantically looking for a way to control your breathing will only send you more anxiety. The best thing to do is to learn a simple breathing exercise that’s designed to make you relax, so that even if you find yourself in panic, you will still maintain control over your breathing. Practice breathing exercises well in advance of any panic attack, at various parts of the day. This will familiarize you with the steps, as waiting until an attack might be too late to actually learn the technique. One often advised breathing method is to inhale deeply through your nose, hold your breath for a few moments and then exhale through your mouth very slowly. Be sure and practice any suggested method beforehand to make sure it actually helps you reduce stress levels. You don’t want to wait until a panic attack happens before finding out the breathing exercise actually makes you more anxious. After all, not everyone finds the same exercises relaxing.
There are also relaxation techniques you could learn for use in a panic attack. After controlling your breathing, you may feel the need to calm your nerves. Various exercises can be taught by therapists or even through meditation practices such as Yoga. Many of these may involve sitting, laying down or stretching while focusing on a specific thought or feeling. Before trying anything physical such as unusual neck stretches, make sure the practice is advocated by a professional therapist. The last thing you need is to damage your body and have to visit a chiropractor.
You can also create a small support group that you can contact specifically in the event of a panic attack. The contact information should include a telephone number where you can reach them at any reasonable hour. Keep these contact numbers in a safe place that you will easily remember, at home and on your person if you are traveling. It’s important to compile a large list so that only one or two persons won’t be your only hope in the event of an attack. Rather than put pressure on friends and family some people find it beneficial to join a support group for this very reason -fast and empathetic support at all hours of the day. A crisis hot-line should also be one of the numbers on this contact list, as these are lines set up exclusively for emotional emergencies.
The most important thing is to have a definite plan ready. Even though your mind may be panicking at some point, you will quickly remember the plan of action that you practiced. It may be just what is needed to guide you back to emotional control.