Some of you may know, and some of you might not be aware, but this week is Mental Health Awareness Week. A week dedicated to spending awareness about such a crucial topic in a modern community. I’m very open with my experiences with mental health, and I am always on the lookout for ways to help other people who may be struggling in similar situations to what I have been through.
I get messages on a regular basis asking me for advice on how to deal with panic attacks, panic disorders, depression and anxiety, and how I manage to cope with day to day life suffering myself. Of course, I’m always so happy to reply to all your messages and spend hours, days, weeks, talking to you guys because communication really is key to improvement and I am always here for you guys if you need me. However, I thought that I wold do a little bit of a blog post including my coping techniques for how I manage my panic attacks and anxiety, in hope that this will help just one of you. And I’ve also included how to help people who are suffering because quite a large number of people don’t know what to do when someone around them is suffering.
So, what is a panic attack? According to the NHS, the official definition for a panic attack is that “a panic attack is a rush of intense anxiety and physical symptoms”. The symptoms of a panic attack vary in different people and many people will experience a numerous amount of symptoms, in comparison to some people who will experience minimal symptoms. But whatever symptoms you are experiencing, that is no reason to play it down, and no reason why anyone should belittle you.
Panic Attacks are something which one in 10 people experience in their lifetime and for such a high statistic quite a lot of people are unsure of how to deal with panic attacks, or even what techniques to try. If my techniques can help just a few of you guys, I’ll be happy, because no one should have to suffer alone and unsure with a panic attack. My techniques might not work for you, this is just what works for me, but everyone is different and everyone has different techniques that works for them, it really is all about balancing it out and finding what helps you.
My techniques for myself
Breathing Exercises: When you have a panic attack it does impact your breathing immediately and this can cause a person to go into more of a state of panic because it is a feeling that you can’t fully breathe properly. That is why the first thing that I focus on is my breathing. I take a nice slow, deep breath through my nose and then hold it for 5 seconds and slowly exhale through my mouth. I will repeat this process over and over until I’ve got myself to a point where my breathing is a lot more calmer and I start to feel in less of a state of panic.
Positive Thinking: Another thing which I really focus on is visualising a positive outcome. The most important thing to remember is this feeling, this state of panic and anxiety, is only temporary and things WILL get better. Visualise a positive image, a really simple thing to visualise is what you’re going to do later in the day, so what you’re going to eat, maybe where you’re going to go etc. Or visualise a happy, stress and panic free place, and keep visualising yourself in that place while doing your breathing exercises.
Slow Steps: Trust me, I know the first thing you want to do is to try and rush yourself to get back to a manageable state of mind again, and when you’re in public that really does intensify and you will be rushing trying to make it pass quicker. This is the worst thing you can do. By rushing, you create more of a panic, and as a result, will end up worse. Get yourself to a quiet (or quieter) spot, and just take it slow and at your own pace until you begin to feel more you again.
Open Up To People: Opening up to people about what you suffer with can be incredibly hard, but sometimes opening up to people really does help you. I have a few close friends who to begin with I told about my panic attacks so that if we were ever out somewhere and I began to feel uncomfortable, I could always rely on them to leave a place with me and to just sit with me. Lots more people than you think are willing to simply just listen to you, so give opening up to people a try. (My dms on Twitter are open, so you are always more than welcome to dm me!)
Get Air: Heat is sometimes a big contributing trigger to some people’s attacks, so the best thing you can do is get some fresh air into your lungs. Take a sit outside for a few minutes while doing your breathing exercises and really fill up on fresh air.
How to help someone else
Unless you’ve suffered yourself, you can never really understand truly what a person is going through, but you can be there for them, and hopefully, you will take on board what I am going to say to ensure that you can help your loved ones.
Listen: It is pretty much the most obvious point but do listen to them. If they attempt to open up to you about what they are suffering with, encourage them. Reassure them that you will listen to what they have to say, and never, I repeat never, belittle them.
Stay with them: Everyone is different, sometimes some people will want to be alone and that works for them. But other times, when people are having a panic attack they just want some company, even if that means you sitting in silence and just being there for them.
Understand: If someone you knows suffers, sometimes they might just cancel on you last minute, simply because they just can’t bring themselves to go out. Understand that. Never make them feel bad because they already have so much going on in their head. Reassure them that you understand, and let them know you will be there for whenever they want to rearrange.
I really, really hope my tips have helped you or helped you to help someone else. Like I’ve said before, my dms on Twitter are ALWAYS open for anyone, so if you ever need me, head over to my Twitter @gabbyfabrizio.