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3 Things That Might Help You Cope During a Panic Attack

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Last Saturday was the marching band’s first football game. There were tons of people, loud noises and bright lights. There was also a fair/rodeo just down the road with flashing lights and accompanying smells. Put this all together, you have a recipe for disaster when it comes to someone with any type of anxiety. Unfortunately, one of my dear friends was the victim this time, as the people, noise and the atmosphere of the football game were too much for her. She had a panic attack just a few minutes before we went to the field to perform. Thankfully, her sister was at the game and was able to take her home.

I was able to get in touch with her and talk to her about her experience. As a person who struggles with generalized anxiety disorder, I am no stranger to panic attacks. She explained to me the situation that put her in the mood and told me some tips that helped her while dealing with anxiety.

I should note that although anxiety disorders are fairly common, there are many different ways for people to deal with anxiety, what works for one person may not work for another. However, after discussing this with her, I personally have come to the realization that these would probably work for me. I hope they work for someone else.

1. Learn what calms yourself down.

Obviously this is easier said than done, but the best thing you can do for yourself is to calm yourself down. She says a few ways that she calms down is by looking at pictures of her dog, laying on the ground or listening to music. I personally listen to music or take a hot bath (as hot as you can take it). If you get anxiety often, then I would recommend getting a bubble bath you enjoy smelling, as sometimes the pleasant aroma can help calm you down.

2. Surround yourself with supportive people.

Both my friend and I are not “people persons.” I’m outgoing, but once there are too many people in one place, I start to shut down. During large events, I’m always sure to sit on the outside of the section. If I do have a panic attack, then I can have access to an escape route, instead of walking through people and worrying about what they are saying or thinking about me. However, a good way to be sure people won’t talk about you like that is to find people who support you while going through this. Luckily, my friend has tons of love and support from students, family and our directors. Instead of blowing her off or telling her to get over it, she had friends there to help her.

3. Understand it’s OK to feel this way.

When I started having panic attacks in high school, I was worried that if I showed my emotions, people would think of me as less of a person. Things got worse around the second semester of my sophomore year in college. I would have a panic attack almost daily, but I was too worried to talk to anyone about it. Eventually, I realized I have a right to feel these emotions, instead of hiding them. When I finally told someone I trust (my resident advisor), he helped me and guided me through these difficult times. Understand that so many people feel just like you. You’re not alone, and people care about you.

By personally dealing with anxiety, I understand going through a panic attack is tough. Sometimes it seems nobody cares about you, or you’ll never get through it. However, the best thing you can do is find people who support and love you. If you find someone asking you things like, “Why are you crying,” or “It’s all in your head,” then be careful. Understand most of the time, they’re trying to help. If you’re reading this and you don’t have anxiety, know those are some of the worst things you can say to someone having a panic attack. Show them compassion and love, and show them the understanding they need to get through it.

Image via Thinkstock.

This post originally appeared on The Odyssey Online.

Originally published: September 20, 2016
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