Anyone who has ever gotten a panic attack understands how uncomfortable and scary they can be, and they’re often difficult to get under control. However, there are some techniques you can use to help prevent a panic attack, and although everyone responds differently, knowing some general ways to help relax yourself can be useful when panic arises. Even if you aren’t able to completely stop a panic attack in its tracks, self-soothing techniques can help lessen the likelihood of a panic attack and reduce it’s intensity and duration.
“If we know that we have tools to help us through the difficulties surrounding panic, the sense of capability and perspective can help us weather the panic attack with greater resilience and grit,” Doreen Dodgen-Magee, PsyD, tells Bustle. “In my experience, it is important to help those suffering understand that the first goal isn’t to eliminate panic — it’s to build one’s feelings of competence in handling the panic when it comes. When we can approach ourselves with tenderness, knowing that we will care for ourselves and nurture ourselves through difficult situations, we can begin to soften to whatever comes our way.”
Different techniques will work for different people, but the key is to build your toolbox so you’re equipped with responses that could potentially help when you feel panic arise. Here are nine self-soothing techniques to use before a panic attack, according to an expert.
1Close Your Eyes
When you are overwhelmed and panicked, shutting your eyes can help you stay grounded. “If you’re able to, close your eyes,” licensed psychologist Deborah E. Dyer, Ph.D., tells Bustle. “Reduce the amount of external stimulation you are subject to. Being able to close your eyes creates a sense of calm and control when the environment feels out of control.”