The Best Ways to Cope With a Panic Attack, According to Moms Who've Been There

moms handle panic attackWe all experience some form of fear or anxiety at different times in our lives. But many people suffer chronic panic attacks that are so extreme and disabling, the person is sidelined for the rest of the day. So, what's a busy mom to do if one hits when she's least expecting it? 

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We sought out real strategies for coping with these crippling episodes. Here, 11 moms get honest about their tactics for handling panic.

1. "My dog is very helpful. If I have an anxiety attack, she gets in my lap and lets me hold her until I calm down." 

2. "If I feel an anxiety attack coming on, my first step, if I can, is to get somewhere quiet. I take deep breaths in, let it out slowly; I tell myself that it will pass soon. Then, I use a method my therapist gave me: I focus on my senses. I find something around me I can hear, smell, feel, and see. Like, if I'm outside, I will focus in and say, 'I can hear the trees, I can smell the flowers, I can feel the grass under my feet, I can see the sky.' I thought it was crazy at first, but it takes your mind off the panicky feeling and refocuses it elsewhere." 

3. "I take deep breaths and place my head between my legs -- that's my healthful way to do it."

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4. "There are breathing techniques that you can learn. They can be similar (but not the same) as the ones for labor. I concentrate on taking that one breath and trying to make it a fuller breath each time. I also 'talk' to myself: I am all right. You can do this for one more minute or five. Or then as time goes on, I keep telling myself, I can do this. The panic is not going to kill me and I am stronger than the emotion. I tell my heart to slow down, as well." 

5. "I sing. It helps me control my breathing."
 
6. "I had to physically do things and keep myself focused on something else. When they were at their worst, I'd have to carry around a deck of cards. When I could feel it coming on, I would start playing solitaire or even something as simple just flipping over the top card and focusing on what card it was. I always needed to have something to do."
 
7. "I get in the shower or go and hike. They both calm me down a lot." 
 
8. "I stumbled onto an article about how yoga can help. I like yoga, but I wasn't so sure that this would really work. I tried it anyway. Whenever I felt like I was about to snap, I'd find a place, if possible, to try the child pose, with arms back and palms up. I was amazed at how quickly it settled me. Now, I find that all I have to do is close my eyes, breathe, and imagine being in that position. It's been pretty awesome!" 
 
9. "I snap a rubber band that I keep on my wrist. It helps me focus on that instead of whatever I'm panicking on. The more I snap it, the more focused on the rubber band I become. It's weird, but it really helps."
 
10. "I have medication for panic attacks. I try to go somewhere where I can be alone, if possible. If I'm at a party or something, I will go outside. I also have a friend who I can usually call and she will talk to me about things not related to the attack until I can breathe again."
 
11. "I don't get them often, but when I do, a cold floor is what helps me. Tile, cement ... something that stays cold."
 
 

Image via pkpix/shutterstock; unsplash/Brooke Cagle
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