Yesterday I had a bad panic attack complete with sobbing and inability to breathe at the gym. It was so bad that I didn’t have a chance to consider my surroundings or the reactions of other people but public panic attacks can be particularly difficult, especially if they feed off concerns about what people think. That in turn leads to panicking about panicking. We’ve all been there. Here are some tips, tricks, snippets of advice on things that have worked for me in the past.
Rule number 1 is to focus on you. Yesterday I lay down on the floor, before I fell down and I let my body do its thing. In that moment I felt like I couldn’t breathe but in reality I was gulping in oxygen so hard I got a tingling in my extremities and couldn’t move them. Meanwhile I was still overcome by emotion and an absolute snotty mess but at no point did I exacerbate the situation by worrying about other people. There were a few people around before it happened so maybe they were staring but it doesn’t concern them so I owe them nothing. If you feel yourself starting to panic about what others are thinking, close your eyes and focus on all the sensations you can feel, or focus on your breathing, or even picture yourself in a comfy armchair.
If you’re out in public on your own and you feel panic starting to build try to find yourself somewhere a little quieter, and give yourself time to let it pass because it will always pass. If you have a particular distraction technique that works for you at home like reading a book, colouring in or drawing, it’s a good idea to carry something with you that you can use if panic strikes.
It’s ok to talk to someone. Stranger danger is real, of course, but there have been a few times where strangers have really helped me out in the event of panic when I was out on my own. Very recently and older lady saw me panicking at the Dr surgery and asked if I was alright then we talked for a bit to take my mind off it until I was called for my appointment. There are a lot of lovely people in the world who are happy to help others. Even if you are in a shop/cafe you could strike up a conversation with a member of staff to give you something else to focus on.
Sometimes being out and about when anxious is just too much. In those cases it’s totally ok to give up and go home. Yesterday my day was a write off. I was anxious and couldn’t concentrate at work and I wanted to go to the gym and smash it but after the panic attack my heart just wasn’t in it so we left. I got home and practised some self care and rested up ready to face another day.
Do you have any other tips I’ve missed in this post? If so, leave them in the comments.