Panic attacks can happen unexpectedly and they’re scary.
Your mind is left unrested, pulse is racing, and palms become sweaty. You find it difficult to breathe properly and it feels like there’s no way out, with no exaggeration, you believe that you’re dying.
Panic attacks have triggers, for many people it’s being amongst big crowds or flying in an aeroplane, but for me, it’s open spaces. Travelling in a car across rural areas in Ireland is something which I dread each time I visit. I just know that there will come a point during a journey that we will endeavour into what might be viewed as beautiful scenic areas in the world for most people, but a nightmare for me. Knowing that I’m far from civilization, I somehow feel both fearful and trapped in distant spaces that see miles of field, huge mountains and giant cliffs, where no buildings are nearby. I experience feelings of stress, hopelessness, anxiety and large amounts of fear.
The panic occurs when the realization of being in a nature filled open space kicks in. Here’s how I overcome it:
I recognize that I’m beginning to go into a panic attack, I note the fact that this is just my mind playing tricks on me, I am not in pain, and panic attacks cannot kill me.
I divert the attention in my hectic mind to something more calming, whether it’s listening at a loud volume to a meditation app or incredibly relaxing music (artists such as Benjamin Francis Leftwich are great for this).
Then, I focus on my breathing to make sure that I my breaths are slow. I breathe in, counting to 4 slowly and breath out, steadily counting to 6, I repeat this breathing practice.
Once my heart rate is back to normal, I sit back and smile, realising that I’m absolutely fine.