6 Steps to Surviving a Panic Attack

Six steps to gain control.

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Take charge of that nervous system NOW.

The physiological changes that occur during a panic attack happen because your body thinks you’re in danger.

Seemingly at the blink of an eye, your body kicks into high gear, giving you the power for fight or flight, which would be a welcome response if you were in real danger.

The problem is, you’re not.

This is an adaptive response that’s happening at the wrong time. The next time you feel that telltale quickening of breath and OOC heart-rate, take control by doing this:

1. Breathe in through your nose and out through your mouth.
Follow my lead: In-2-3, Out-2-3.

2. Watch your thoughts.
They don’t have power, unless you give them power. Watch em, don’t buy into them.

3. Call bullshit on those thoughts.
Remember, thoughts aren’t facts and often, they can be deceptive little suckers.

4. Replace them with thoughts that make more sense in the moment.
It’s time to replace the erroneous banter with truth. Let’s switch, “What if I left the flat iron on and my house burns down??” to “Oops! My brain is trying to trick me again! I’ve never left the flat iron on before and, besides, this is 2019 and it has an automatic shut-off.”

5. Relax your muscles. Work from the top down.
Start with the muscles in your face. Move onto your arms, hands, belly, butt, thighs, calves, feet. Hold each muscle super-tight for 10 seconds then slowly relax them.

6.  Use your senses to get present.
Smell the iced coffee you’re drinking. Taste it, too. Take notice of the feel of the fabric on your seat, the visuals in the room. What’s that buzzing? Distract your body by sharpening its focus on your environment.

Illustrations by Wendy Chan.

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