Presentation is a normal activity in our modern life. We have to present our tasks in school, and then we have to present our ideas in the workplace. With those experiences since our school days, you should be used to performing by now. Unfortunately for people with panic attacks, this task is challenging because they don’t know when their attack is going to come.
When a panic attack comes, you stop hearing and seeing things around you. You become lightheaded and disoriented. What if the attack comes in the most undesirable times – like in the middle of business meeting or in the middle of presentation in class? You should be able to halt the the attack so you can continue your task at hand, or at least so you can excuse yourself to calm down. So…follow these 10 tricks to quickly stop panic attack:
1. Remember to Breathe
When you forget your surroundings, it’s easy to forget yourself too. Sometimes, when everything stops, you stop breathing, causing you to gasp for air and trigger even more panic. So, when the feeling comes, remember to breathe. Put this reminder in the front of your mind so it will be the first thing you think when everything stops.
When you remember to breathe, inhale and exhale the oxygen slowly. You can count from 5-7 when you inhale, count from 1-3 when you hold, and then count 7-9 when you exhale. You can shorten the count, but remember to always exhale longer than inhale.
2. Think of Good Things
The next thing that debilitates your recovery from panic is the negative thoughts. Your fear of failing your performance and receiving judgement from people make you afraid to face them. When the negativity starts clouding your vision, conjure good thoughts to fight it away.
Think of your family and friends who have supported you, think of your reason to do this, think of what will happen if you succeed. Imagine yourself performing your best effort and everyone’s reaction to it. Thinking these happy thoughts will make you feel better, and as the result, make you calmer.
3. Relax Your Body
When the panic attacks you, your body will feel the impact. Your muscles will tense, your body will shake, your mouth will be dry, and your eyes will lose focus. To soften the severity of the attack, relax your body. When you do that, your brain will receive the message that everything is back to normal and there is no longer need to panic.
Start by quickly scanning your body and feel what is happening to each part. Focus your eyes on something in the room and observe it. Relax your muscles, especially your neck and shoulders. Finally, grab your hands to force them from shaking.
4. Ground Yourself
Feeling disoriented after an attack is normal. Suddenly, your awareness of where you are and what are you doing vanishes. When you realize it, you don’t know where you are or what to do, then it is time to reorient yourself by grounding.
Take a good look around you and notice things. Who are the people in the room? Where is this room? What are you doing in this room? What do you want to do in this room? Answer these question to pull you from daze and come back to your situation.
5. Question Yourself
Anxiety comes from not being able to understand and control your surroundings. To further increase your understanding, and therefore your control toward the situation, ask yourself these questions:
- What is it that you’re afraid of?
- Are any of those fears happening? If yes, why do you think so?
- Is there any evidence that these fears are really happening?
- If something does goes wrong, is it fixable?
Often, the situation is not as dire as you think. These questions will help you realize that the situation is in fact under control. You will understand that your worry is not happening, and even if it is, you can fix it. This understanding will arouse your sense of control.
6. Reassure Yourself
When you finally gain awareness of your surroundings, it is time to get your confidence back. Words of encouragement will boost your faith in yourself. Who can offer you these words in this situation? It is none other than yourself. Self reassurance is also called affirmation and it is a legit psychological trick that is proven to work.
Tell yourself that everything is okay, there is nothing wrong, and you will give the best performance. Tell yourself that you have prepared everything beforehand so you are ready to take on anything. Then, praise yourself for your better qualities, such as your intelligence, your eloquence, your adaptability, your quick thinking, and so forth. In the end, tell yourself that even if something goes wrong, you will still be okay and you will still love yourself.
7. Decide to Stay or Rest
Now that you are able to think clearly again, you can make a decision. Can you continue your performance or do you need to step back for a while? If you’ve gained back your awareness, control, and confidence, it is safe to get back to your game.
But if everything you’ve tried is not enough to halt the attack, then there is nothing wrong when you want to step back. Forcing yourself will only bring more panic. Excuse yourself calmly and politely, explaining what you need and when you will return.
8. Get Some Fresh Air
Panic attacks can be suffocating, literally and figuratively. Stepping out of the room to get a breath of fresh air can dismiss this feeling, both literally and figuratively too. The air outside will feel fresher to you, easing you to take a deep and even breath. It will also release you from feeling trapped and make you relaxed.
Choose a quiet place where you can find your peace without being distracted. If possible, step outside to feel the nature as that has a psychological effect to calm us down. Or, if it isn’t available, find a place where you can see the outside. It will release the suffocating and claustrophobic feeling and broaden your view.
9. Call Trusted Someone
When everything else doesn’t work, then it is time to ask for help. It is okay to request help, because nobody can live alone. Call your trusted someone – your spouse, your family, or your close friends. Tell them what happened.
Their comforting and encouraging words can be a source of strength within yourself. Remember that no matter what happen, you will not be alone. Remember that you have people who care about you, who will accept you no matter what happen.
Remember, asking for help IS a sign of strength.
10. Get Physical Contact
If available, instead of calling your trusted someone, meet them instead. Face to face contact is more beneficial than mere calling, because human brain recognize other people’s face better than their voices. Furthermore, when you meet them, you can touch them and get physical contact. Studies suggest that physical contact help to ground people and calm them down.
A mere hand holding can suffice. It is a gesture of support and you will feel stronger when you know that you have someone to count on. A hug can release oxytocyn, a hormone that can calm your nerves and make you feel happier.
These 10 tricks are quick and easy to do when you have a panic attack in the middle of an important moment. You just have to practice and remember these steps so the next time you get the attack, you know what works to halt it. Do you have your own tricks to add into the list? Tell us about it in the comment section below.
Azhar, Founder freeitout, I believe our quality of life could rise just as dramatically if we all began practicing personality hygiene, can you imagine what would world be like if everyone was psychologically healthier ? I DO.