How To Stop a Panic Attack in 5 Steps

This week I was diagnosed with multiple ear infections (not to mention sinus infection with migraines) and was put on an antibiotic. Not a big deal, right? Well, apparently it doesn’t sit well with me because I’ve had horrible reactions both mentally and physically ever since–one of which being the dreaded panic attack. Unfortunately, I’m no stranger to this issue; I’ve been dealing with them on and off my entire life.

It almost seems silly that I’m writing this because I feel far from an expert on how to deal with panic attacks, but I’m hoping that reading this may bring a bit of relief to someone else–and at the very least, a new and different perspective that has come to help me. So here are my ways how to stop a panic attack in 5 steps:

Step 1

Let the feeling ride. Feel it without any resistance.

Step 2

Trace it back to a feeling. I’m talking separate the numbing paranoia and fear from the bottom line. Push the shock of the fear and physical manifestations of the panic and ask yourself what one feeling does this panic come from.

Step 3

Once you’ve identified the feeling, figure out the trigger. This could be a place, thought, person, memory, or anything else–the point is to attempt to trace the panic attack back to the very thought that triggered the spiral.

Step 4

Figure out, realistically, if this thought has any merit. Is this something that scares you? Worries you? Makes you feel guilty? Whatever it is, try to put the emotional pang of the panic attack aside and be your own realist here. Ask yourself if it’s something true or likely to happen and if it isn’t, think of all the reasons why it isn’t. Then, trust yourself and your judgement and do your best to put the panic to rest knowing that you’ve seen this through. This process of thought flipping helps your mind to calmly switch out of emotional mode and into logical mode. This has helped me to talk myself out of bigger panic attacks.

Step 5

Divert your attention. Once you’ve completed your thought flipping, find something else to do. Read something, watch an engaging movie or television show, play a word game, have a conversation with a friend, paint–whatever you have to do to stay cognitively engaged in something other than your panic attack. One of the phrases I always remind myself of is “this too shall pass”. This is a temporary state and in no way indicative of who you are as a person.

Honorable Mention: Guided Meditation

I think it’s worth noting how guided meditation does help me when I’m feeling particularly anxious. However, I’ve never used it in the midst of a panic attack so I can’t speak to how well it might work at that highly elevated of an emotional state. I tend to use guided meditation when I need to reconnect after a panic attack or if I’m feeling anxious and think it could possibly turn into one.

My favorite: Calm

how to stop a panic attack

I’ve tried many different methods of deescalating a panic attack but this process is the only one I’ve found that seems to work the majority of the time. Is there a tried-and-true way that you’ve used? I’d be interested in hearing the helpful ways others deal with this issue!

What I’m Buying for My Trip to Italy + a Huge Sale!

 

Hi ya’ll! I am so excited for summer–I mean, besides the obvious reasons, Nate and I are journeying to Italy in June! This will be my first time back to Europe since 2002 and Nate’s first time to Europe ever. Now you might think we’re crazy, but we’ve decided to bring only a backpack. I have literally never gone on a trip to anywhere without lots of luggage so this will definitely be a challenge for me.

The tickets I was able to score would make for a second time going through customs and re-checking baggage, so we opted to go with a carry-on only. But what do you pack for 10 days in Italy when you only have a backpack? I took to my friends, blogs, Facebook groups, and family members for advice.

One of the most common pieces of advice I was given was to pack only a few dresses in fabrics that wouldn’t wrinkle too badly that would be versatile enough to rewear. Obviously this meant that I had to go shopping.

Another thing to think about was how we were going to do with traveling around the cities all day–I didn’t want to bring a heavy purse and I want my hands to be free while I explore everything Italy has to offer. I opted to go with this Marc Jacobs mini backpack that is big enough to store a water bottle, cardigan, phone, keys, wallet, etc. Bonus–it was on sale and comes in different colors!

One of my friends who frequently travels to Europe, reminded me that I need to wear sleeves and skirts/dresses to the knee or below when visiting holy places like churches. This changed my outlook, because now I think I’m going to go with maxi and midi dresses that I can change up with some jewelry and drape a light jacket over if need be. Here’s one I just bought for 50% off that just screams “Venice”!

Any advice on what you’ve packed for a similar trip or how to pack in a carry-on only would be greatly appreciated!

So far on my list:

A sun hat

Maxi and midi dresses

A versatile bralette

Mini backpack

Statement earrings

Light pajamas

A pair of denim shorts

Neutral sneakers for pairing with dresses and shorts

Comfortable walking sandals

Colorful hair ties

A light jumpsuit or romper

Collapsible water bottle

A light top that goes with everything

Comfortable leggings

Denim jacket

 

Luckily, Shopbop is having an amazing sale where you buy more, get more and if you know me in person, I’ve probably talked your ear off about it at some point. In fact, the majority of the pieces I get compliments on are from here. I love stocking up here when the sales are this good! Best part is if you have Amazon, you can log in with your account and get free two day shipping…YAS QUEEN. The sale is on until March 2nd at 8:59pm EST. DON’T MISS OUT! Let me know if you need suggestions, I’ve been buying from them for years!

 

Shop my picks here:

The Beginning…Again

 

So I said that I wanted you to follow me on my journey to wellness, but truth be told it’s been a little harder getting there than I had hoped. There have been many times I thought about writing a post but then thought “I don’t really want to convey this cheery appearance when I’m still feeling like crap; it doesn’t seem genuine and I’m definitely not proud enough of where I’m at right now to tell people that this is how I’m getting through it.”

Screw it, here it is: Yep, I went to acupuncture. Yep, went to therapy. Yep, joined the gym. Yep, got me one of those orange rock lights you plug into the wall. Yep, joined a weight loss program to lose the 51 pounds I’ve gained over the past year. Yep, meditated the hell out of that Calm App. Sounds like I’m on the right track, right? Well, the orange light bugs Nate at night and today was my 1st day at the gym. “But Missy, you said you bought the membership last summer…?” Yep, that’s right. Member of the Year over here.

But all joking aside, in my head, I failed. Since the last post, I did a back-slide. I let self-doubt overtake me and I allowed myself to get derailed from any and all plans to be healthy, productive, and focused on recovering from depression. But hey–more now than ever,

I have realized that just showing up is the paramount of what matters when it comes to mental health recovery.

Because this is true, I am picking myself back up and moving forward. Only this time, I have systems in place to ensure success. And since the beginning of the year, I have made it my goal to better myself and cultivate a life in which I am not only participating, but actively creating.

The Wake-Up Call

The panic-inducing shock that I needed to do so came on New Year’s Eve when, like every year, I recap on the events of the past 365 days. After taking a long look at my life in 2018, I was sad to find that my lack of notable events forced me to include “changed my hair color” on my list of what I did this year and I thought to myself: “this is pathetic”. Now I know that that isn’t very nice to say, but I had to look at myself in the mirror and begrudgingly admit that I had allowed myself to become a passenger in my own life. Who’s driving? Not me, friend. Falling into a hole of self-loathing, pity, and hopelessness, I became obsessed with figuring out the root of, the trigger for and every which way to help “pull me out” of this horrific pattern of negative thoughts and self-doubt.

I had officially gone an entire calendar year suffering from depression, panic disorder, OCD, and PTSD. Obviously what I was doing wasn’t working (what was I doing?), and now I knew I didn’t want to be the girl who includes “dyed her hair pink” in her “what I did this year” list. As superficial a wake-up call as that was, I knew that was not who I am, not what I’ve worked hard to be, and definitely not what I envisioned for myself in terms of personal success at this point in my life.

Just a Phrase

You know you hear the words “living intentionally” and you’re probably thinking “yeah, that’s cute…is that on the bumper sticker next to your “live, laugh, love” magnet? But I’ll tell ya, it means a hell of a lot more when you define the phrase by what it isn’t. It isn’t going along with the crowd, waiting for others to make plans, isolating oneself when feeling bad, remaining regretfully uninvolved, unmotivated, and unwilling to get your ass off the couch.

Well, when I decided to start looking for ways to inspire, organize, and provide myself some accountability measures, I searched for tools that would help me to intentionally plan for good things to happen in my life. I found several I’m toying with right now and there’s a few I’m really excited about.

Today (being the first day I “officially” started going to the gym) is the day I felt marked a significant change in me and the start of something positive, consistent, and integral in helping me continue on my path to self-improvement and happiness. I needed some type of “starting point” to inspire me to keep writing and I’m happy it’s finally arrived.

Starting a Conversation

I’ve got a bunch of things to share with you on how my outlook has shifted in the past 30 days and what made it do so. I’m excited to share what I’ve learned in the meantime and hopefully start a conversation that unfortunately seems to be “taboo” in today’s society.

So, I’m asking for your help–I want to hear your stories, what you’ve experienced, what’s worked for you and what hasn’t, how you manage to remain positive, how you deal with stress and anxiety, what good advice have you heard, what phrase has stopped and made you reflect, what you do to stay motivated and productive, and everything in between. Let’s help each other out!

Write me below (or on Facebook or Instagram if that’s more your thing)! I would love to hear your experiences, advice, or anything else on the topic.

As always, I appreciate your support more than you know.