Coping Techniques for Panic Attacks

Panic attacks can be terrifying but their severity can be reduced and sometimes they can be stopped before they occur. If you have suffered with panic attacks before you will often be able to tell when an attack is coming. Here are some techniques to help ground yourself if you feel a panic attack starting. The following techniques can also be used when distressing feelings, memories or images occur as a result of PTSD, self-harm urges or trauma.

  1. Focus on breathing - count the length of your in and out breath and concentrate on filling your lungs with air.

  2. Sit down - feel the chair beneath you, feel your feet on the floor and feel the back of the chair.

  3. Concentrate on how your body feels - work your way up or down your body sensing how each part feels. Are your shoulders tense? Do you feel warm or cold? Can you feel your heart beat?

  4. Look around and list what is around you - Is there a chair? A table? A picture?

  5. Hold something - pick up items around you and really look at the item. How does it feel? What colour is it?

  6. Smell something appealing - a fresh cup of coffee, a perfume, a candle. Concentrate on the smell and describe it to yourself.

  7. Listen to music - listen to anything that makes you feel calm or happy.

  8. Do math - count backwards from 50 or recite times tables.

  9. Splash face with water or hold hands under a tap - How does the water feel? Is it hot or cold?

  10. Chat with someone - you don't have to tell them how you are feeling, just chat about anything that feels okay to chat about - like sport, weather or news.

  11. Close your eyes.

  12. Go for a walk.

  13. Stretch - feel how the muscle feels as you move.

  14. Avoid triggers - physically move away from any object, situation or person that may have triggered the anxiety, feeling or image.

  15. Think of a loved one or friend - remember when you saw them last - What were they wearing? What did they say? How did you feel?

  16. Do something physical and routine - like washing dishes, laundry or ironing.

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