Have you ever had anxious thoughts and feelings that can surface during a panic attack? Well, let me tell you that mindfulness is the key to changing the relationship you have with such thoughts and feelings.
I see a common thread that runs through a good majority of ougerr you clients (20-35 years of age) that come to 180 Sanctuary @ Puripai Villa. All too often I see copious amounts of anxiety surfacing from the pressure to “succeed” at university or work.
They describe to me that their panic attacks would come as waves – starting slowly and gradually building momentum until their whole body is completely over taken. Physical symptoms can surface during a panic attack, such as blurred or tunnel vision. One client also explained to me that during a panic attack the ground beneath their feet felt like it was disappearing and that they had a hard time catching and normalizing their breath.
I coach client at 180 Sanctuary to use mindfulness as a key way to curb a panic attack. An individual will reap significant benefits as a result of consistent mindfulness practice. Through mindfulness training an individual acknowledges that their thoughts and feelings will always be changing, and they learn to accommodate them with a sense of acceptance and kindness. However, this can only be achieved through a process of focusing on thoughts, feelings and sensations in a non-judgmental way. Panic attacks will most likely always be there, however through the steps listed below an individual is able to deal with them on the spot resulting in less intense attacks.
How to Curb a Panic Attack
- 1. Investigate
If you are currently always in the grip of anxiety, fear or worry ask yourself these two questions:
• Am I ok right now ? Anxiety usually comes up when someone is projecting into the future. So in turn it is much more beneficial to focus on what is happening in the here and now. Stay present.
• Is it really true? Thoughts are not facts. They are much like the weather – passing and changing. There is no need to take them so seriously or become emotionally attached to them.
- 2. Take deep, slow and relaxed breaths
When you are so caught up in the whirlwind of anxious thoughts, try and switch your attention to something you can do physically – such as breathing. By doing so, you can switch yourself out of the mental loop that perpetuates anxious feelings which will eventually result in you calming your nerves. Take a few minutes to focus on taking deep, calming breaths. Breathe slowly and deeply into your belly whilst expanding your lungs at the same time. Then with minimal effort, exhale.
- 3. Connect to your senses
Ground yourself in the present. Wherever you may be, take a few deep breaths and focus on your surroundings. Take a look around and observe what you see. Look for different colours, objects and textures. Then shift your focus to what you can hear. Listen to what you can hear in the environment – both small and big sounds. Next, focus your attention to what you can feel. Maybe reach down and touch the ground, take notice of the sensations you feel on your fingertips. Lastly, focus your awareness on your sense of smell. How many different scents can you detect?
- 4. Picture the release of anxious feelings as a cloud floating away high into the sky
Ground yourself firmly into the ground and close your eyes. See if you can locate where on your body is the sensation of anxiety being held. Feel the sensation and visualize the anxiety as a dark cloud. Picture this dark cloud being held in your body all puffy and grey. Take a long deep breath and as you exhale, imagine that you are expelling this dark cloud from your body. See the dark cloud hanging in front of your face. Take comfort in seeing the cloud float away like a balloon. Keep visualizing this until the cloud has floated so high up into the sky that it has completely disappeared out of your sight.