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How to stop a panic attack

Stefanie Schornsheim 0

Did you experience panic attacks? Then I bet you can relate to the following:

Most of the time, panic attacks are unpredictable. They feel that they happen randomly. You were laughing one moment, and when you blink, your heart pounds heavily, and you think you’re gonna die.

For me, it was so bad that I developed a fear of being happy because the last time I enjoyed my life, something terrible happened.

Panic attacks also happen when you definitely don’t need them: In a restaurant, during a meeting at work, in a plane, or on a train where you cannot get out. Mainly in public when it feels like everyone is watching thinking about how weird you are 😨

I never wanted anyone to notice that I got an anxiety or panic attack. So I lied about my feelings to have a reason to leave or need to be alone. I pretended to feel sick, dizzy, or having massive headaches or back pain. The pain was a good excuse because it was at least something some people could relate to when I started crying. 

But lying did not make it better. Anxiety was still part of my life. I wanted something to get over it and live a happy life again.

I tried many things until I found ways to deal with those attacks – and at least shorten them 💪

Here is how:


The first step is getting a feeling for the starting signs of a panic attack. Those are different for many people. It could be a pounding heart, sweating, tingling in your butt, pain at a specific point in the body, or many more.

Every time I had a panic attack, I tried to remember how it started and wrote it all down. After a while, I got a feeling for signs.


Don’t avoid fun, people, or places because you once had a panic attack while being there or doing that. Be thankful for every moment that you experience without being anxious. Write about those moments to realize you are not anxious 24/7 – it just feels like that.


As I said initially, I lied about my real feelings, which worsened it. When I decided to tell some colleagues and friends what was going on, I was nervous – and nearly got another panic attack. Not everyone understood what anxiety is and why I deal with this, but everyone was supportive. They asked if they could do anything to give me space or whatever I needed to live through such an attack. It was a huge relief not to lie anymore.


When panic is overwhelming you, focus on objects or things around you. Describe them with all their details in your head. Think about how they would feel when you touch them. What kind of sound do they make? Can you smell or taste them? This grounding exercise helps remind yourself that you are not in real danger. You are feeling anxiety.


What helped me personally was smelling lavender or peppermint. I carried essential oils in my purse to put under my nose. Squeezing a stress ball was also an option. And while walking through Pike Place Market in Seattle, I found a stress ball filled with lavender 🟣😊

I also had a scrunchy on my wrist band that I could flick against the skin. This helped me calm down and control my heart rate.


Focus on and tense specific muscles, hold for 3-4 seconds and release. One muscle at a time: Toes, legs, butt, belly, breast, shoulders, arms, fingers, neck, jaw, mouth, nose, eyes, forehead. You can also start with your head and end with your toes or repeat the exercise multiple times until the panic attack is over and your body relaxes.


An effective way to calm down your vegetative nerve system is the breathing method 4-to-6. This will slow down your heart rate. The more you practice it outside of panic attacks, the easier and faster it will work during an attack.

Breathe in deeply for 4 seconds and breath out slowly for 6 seconds. Keep going for about two minutes.


Write down your feelings and thoughts with a pen on paper, or try drawing your emotions. Moving a pen over a piece of paper helps you slow down the spiral of words in your heart. Focusing on one thought while writing it down supports this effect.

Did you find this information helpful? Share this article with someone who needs to read it 🙏

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