The Paw Print
Calm down, you can do this. You have been practicing for weeks, you know this information like the back of your hand, and you’ve got this! Oh man, I can’t do this, I can’t breathe! I have to get out!! Have you ever experienced feelings like these? You have been studying for an exam all week, practicing for a big presentation or maybe a job interview you desperately want and all of the sudden, your heart starts racing like a race horse, your hands get clammy and maybe you start getting tingly in your hands and face. You can feel something is terribly wrong. This scary reaction is known as a panic attack. No, it will not kill you but it can be quite terrifying nonetheless, especially if you have never experienced one.
By definition, a panic attack is a sudden rush of psychological and physical symptoms. You cannot think straight, you may not even be able to walk. Panic attacks are actually an extension of what we know as fight or flight mechanisms. When massive amounts of stress build up, the brain is tricked into believing that you are in danger and immediately triggers your fight or flight response.
Unfortunately, beating up your boss or professor is ill advised, so this extra dose of adrenaline becomes redundant and courses through your body over and over with no exit, provoking all those physical symptoms that go into a panic attack.
The important thing here is to understand what is stressing you out and learn any possible techniques on how you can manage them. Remember, although scary, panic attacks cannot hurt you. Because panic attacks are an irrational reaction, they cannot be treated in a rational way. You basically have to talk yourself out of it. Tell yourself you are safe, everything is okay and you are in no real danger. Do not be mean to yourself by talking down to yourself; if anything, that will just make things worse. Go outside, get some fresh air; breathe in deep through your nose and out through mouth. Take your mind off of what is stressing you out and listen to music, drink water, think of something else that makes you happy or that makes you laugh. Focus on the moment and increase your oxygen flow.
Do not be ashamed of your anxiety or panic attacks; they are more common than you may think and the more you accept what they are and are able to come up with techniques that work for you on how to calm yourself you will be just fine. Should you find that they are getting in the way of your day to day life, do not be scared or ashamed to ask for help. There are several treatments for anxiety and panic attacks and the sooner you are able to take care of it the sooner you will find yourself at peace with your stressors.