You have a sensation of fear. It starts with a little niggle in the pit of the stomach- slightly unsettling, like a small electric shock. Then, the flame ignites and you start to sweat, heart palpitates, knees feel weak. You begin to have shortness of breath, your pupils dilate and you may even feel weak or faint. Fight or flight has been activated, your pituitary gland begins pumping out cortisol and other stress hormones. Soon, you are in the midst of a full-blown panic attack.
This is a very unpleasant and terrifying situation. What can you do to help yourself, reverse this terrible scenario? First thing is to be conscious of your breath. It is a fact that the heart slows down if the breath slows down. You will notice that you are breathing rapidly, so consciously slow your breath. Inhale very slowly and hold it for a few seconds. Then let it out slowly. Repeat this until you feel your heartbeat slowing. Then, try to yawn, this will also slow your heart. You can also pinch your nose closed and blow out, it will have a similar effect. These quick fixes for panic will activate the parasympathetic nervous system, the one system in the body that you have some type of control over- this can be very useful to know in the future.
Once you have some type of control over your symptoms of panic and fear, doing some type of physical activity can be very helpful. (This is only if you are healthy enough for physical activity. Naturally if you are sick, this does not apply to you.) Anything that makes you move is good, walking, cleaning- just get up and do something! Your body will eventually calm down, it cannot sustain a severe panic state for a very long time.
It is simple as that to help yourself out of an anxiety attack without taking a tranquilizer, and may even work faster.
I wish you all peace and freedom from fear.
My book OCD and Me, My Unconventional Journey Through Obsessive Compulsive Disorder is available: