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Distracting Yourself - Can It Help In Controlling A Panic Attack?

Written and reviewed by
Ms. Rashi Anand Laskari 91% (42 ratings)
B.A., MA - Counselling Psychology
Psychologist, Mumbai  •  10 years experience
Distracting Yourself - Can It Help In Controlling A Panic Attack?

A panic attack is a stress response to fear and other reactions that you experience due to being overly worried. It can get difficult and painful at times to cope with panic attacks daily. Here are some tips to help you deal with your panic attacks. 

  1. Know your attack: A panic attack can be caused by a variety of reasons. You need to understand the physiological, psychological and emotional components that are causing your panic attack. Once you know the cause, the way your body reacts to each cause and how this stress affects your body and mind, you no longer need to fear your panic attack. You can stop a panic attack only by fighting it. Knowledge is power, let the knowledge of your panic attack help you get better. 
  2. Calm down: Try to relax during an attack. Stop scaring yourself by thinking or saying that you are going to panic! Talk to yourself about positive things. Use positive affirmations to calm down. Take control of the situation and relax your mind and body. Calming down helps shut the mechanism causing your attack and ends the stress response. 
  3. Deep breathing: When you feel you’re going to have a panic attack, simple breathing and relaxation techniques help a lot. You do not need to wait for an attack. Practise deep breathing twice a day for 10 minutes each and see how you can easily conquer your panic attacks. Take deep breaths and keep reassuring yourself that you’re going to be fine. Take in a slow, deep breath while counting to five and hold. Now slowly let your breath out while counting to five again. Concentrate on your breaths and counts which helps shift your focus from the attack to being relaxed. 
  4. Relax your muscles: During an attack, your body gets aroused due to the release of stress hormones. Try to relax and calm your mind and body during an attack to expel the stress hormones faster. Find a comfortable position to sit or lie down during an attack and just focus on your deep breathing techniques. 
  5. Distraction: Shifting your attention to something funny or relaxing which will lighten your mood and calm you down is a good way to prevent an attack. This helps take your mind away from sensations attached to active stress reactions and thereby stop the attack. 

All panic attacks, no matter how long and strong, will eventually end. Just follow the tips above and keep your mind and body relaxed. The more you panic, the worse you become. If you find your panic attacks rooted in past memories, or other thoughts, you are unable to cope with, reach out to a psychologist. Counselling and therapy can help you systematically process the root cause of the panic attacks, providing long term relief and emotional balance. Think positive, stay healthy.

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