Healing from a Panic Attack

“You were given this life because you were strong enough to live it.”

 — Unknown

Here is a quote that popped up on a search engine recently.

The words are simple, yet it is deeply profound, especially for those of us struggling to keep it together.

The road to healing is indeed long and arduous for many of us.

But there always is a little more we can give to ourselves and each other. And incrementally, we find ourselves getting a little stronger each day.

But like a fingerprint, every one of us is different and unique in our own way. And that’s equally the case with our stress response.

For some of us, we were born slightly more sensitive to stress and anxiety.

And it isn’t really our fault because some of us are more responsive to stressful events and produce more stress hormones such as cortisol and adrenaline.

For others they might be more aware of feelings in their bodies, making them feel anxious about what those sensations are and wonder why it is happening.

Imagine someone who rarely suffers from headaches, who suddenly wakes up from their sleep with a terrible migraine.

They might, unsuccessfully, rub their temples and wonder why their head is pounding and why they can’t stand up properly.


If it happened to you, what thoughts would go through your mind?

Would it be something like, “This is not a good day for a headache! I have a presentation. Where’s the aspirin?”

Or, “What is happening to me? Could it be brain cancer? I’ve never had this before, and now it’s paralyzing me! What do I do?”

Can you see which of the two scenarios would lead to:
  1. Increased and thumping heart rate
  2. Rapid and shallow breaths
  3. Sweat streaming down your face
  4. Narrowing vision that starts looking like a dark tunnel

And to make things worse, the inability to stop worrying thoughts racing through your mind like a Bullet Train?

Many of us had moments when we felt a total loss of control, and those symptoms listed above can lead to an anxiety attack.

If you have moments when you feel this way, try some of the tips here to bring yourself back to the “here and now” decrease your heart rate, and slow your breathing.

You don’t need to apply all of them.


Pick the ones you find will work for you.
  • Splash cold water on your face or collect cold water in the basin and submerge your face until you feel a sense of calm and control.
  • Tell yourself “I am safe” repeatedly until you feel calmer.
  • Name 5 things you can see, focus on the details and describe them to yourself.
  • Inhale deeply and exhale slowly (for example, inhale to a count of 5, hold for 2 and exhale to a count of 7). Repeat.
  • Take a cold shower to bring your heart rate down.
  • Pay attention to your catastrophizing thoughts and counteract them with something positive and empowering.
    • Example: “What if this is brain cancer?” then counteract it with “This is a tension headache that will pass shortly. I’m going to do some neck stretches to help with this.”

And if you are having one of those days, remember this quote:

“Whatever you are facing today, remember to give yourself some credit for making it this far. You are stronger than you know.”

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