Meditation For Panic Attacks: 10 Meditation Techniques To Help Manage Panic Attacks
If you (or your loved one) have ever experienced panic attacks then you know how frightful the experience is. As the panic builds, you feel suffocated and helpless. You might even begin to believe that there is no escape from this dreadful experience.
What if I told you that you can learn to be in control of your panic attacks rather than letting the panic attacks control you?
The panic attack you’re experiencing will end. Nothing lasts forever, not even the dreadful panic. You can learn to manage panic attacks so that they don’t have the same dreadful impact on you. One of the most effective ways, when it comes to coping with panic attacks, is what you’ll least expect…yes, meditation.
Many studies over the years have shown that meditation is one of the most powerful tools to cope with various mental and emotional disorders. At least, from my experience, I can say that meditation can help control the symptoms of anxiety, depression, and stress. Now, let’s take a look at how meditation can help with panic attacks and what techniques should be used.
First, What Does A Panic Attack Look Like?
We all are more likely to experience a panic attack once or twice in our lives, especially during our most stressful moments. One of the most harrowing things about panic attacks is that it happens without warning and can leave one feeling lost and hopeless.
Of course, the intensity and the experience of a panic attack may differ from person to person but some common symptoms of a panic attack can include:
- Irregular breathing
- Increased heart rate
- Racing thoughts
- Feeling like you are going to die
- Feeling an impending sense of doom
- Feeling like you are “going crazy” or “out of control”
- Experiencing sweating and shaking
- Feeling nauseous
- Feeling dizzy
- Experiencing stomach aches and other gastrointestinal issues
Does Meditation Help With Panic Attacks?
Now that we know what a panic attack may look like, the next question that needs to be answered is; does meditation help with panic attacks?
Using meditation to overcome panic attacks is easily understandable. Many of the common panic attack symptoms such as racing heart rate, irregular breathing, feeling terror, etc can all be associated with the stress response aka the “flight or fight” response.
During this response, our stress hormones cortisol and adrenaline are released that can trick our body into thinking that we are in danger, even when we aren’t.
Meditation is a relaxing technique that can trigger the parasympathetic response aka the rest and digest response. Meditation calms down your sympathetic nervous system and allows you to rest and relax.
Using meditation to overcome panic attacks can work when you make meditation a wellness routine. Once meditation becomes a routine, you’re less likely to experience panic attacks in the first place and even if you do, you can quickly use meditation to calm yourself down.
Below, let’s see the 10 meditation techniques you can use to cope with panic attacks.
Meditation For Panic Attacks
Meditation is not all about quieting your thoughts but it’s about being present in the moment and not dwelling on the past or the future. These techniques can help you stay in the moment and understanding that you are experiencing a panic attack in the first place is an important step.
Please understand that these meditation techniques may not rid you of your panic attacks immediately but can help you ease your symptoms so that you can get the help you need.
1.Five Senses Meditation
When a panic attack happens, our senses are the first to become overwhelmed. Our thoughts race, we feel detached and lose control over our minds and bodies. Five senses meditation or grounding meditation is one of the best ways to control our overwhelming sensations. All you need to do is:
- Find a quiet place to sit or lie
- Get in touch with your five senses and notice how they connect you with your present moment
- Concentrate on those sensations for a few minutes. Ask yourself, “What am I seeing now?” “What am I hearing?” “What am I tasting?” etc.
2.Coherent Breathing Meditation
Irregular breathing is another panic attack symptom that meditation can help control. During a panic attack, our breathing can become fast and shallow which can make us feel out of breath. This is also where many people believe they are going to die as they are unable to breathe in the oxygen required.
Coherent breathing or conscious breathing means paying attention to your breaths as you inhale and exhale. Sit down and mindfully slow down your breathing. It might take some time to slow down your breathing but you can always ask for help.
Mindfulness meditation for panic attacks can also work! All you need to do is practice conscious breathing, followed by noticing your thoughts, and lastly, letting them go. All you need to do is be in the moment and not dwell on the negative thoughts that arise during panic attacks.
You can learn to incorporate mindfulness into your daily routine so that you can easily switch to mindfulness meditation when panic attack symptoms occur.
Another simple meditation/breathing technique, square breathing can also help manage panic attacks. All you need to do is inhale for a count of four, hold the breath for 4 seconds, exhale for a count of four, and hold the breath again for four seconds.
To help you, here’s a simple video on how to practice square breathing:
Belly breathing is also a good relaxation technique that you can use to overcome panic attacks. All you need to practice belly breathing is to lie down comfortably, place your hands on your belly, and deeply inhale so that your belly expands. Next, exhale from your mouth gently.
6.Body Scan Meditation
Body awareness during panic attacks can also help in coping with panic attacks. For this, a body scan meditation can work. Body scan meditation can help you become aware of what’s happening in your body and reflect on your thinking.
Panic attacks can also cause jitteriness and make you feel you can’t sit still anymore. While quite understandable, it can be a little unnerving if you don’t let out the energy. One of the best ways to do that is through walking meditation. During a panic attack, go for a walk. It might sound absurd but it works.
Sometimes all we need is a little guidance on how to relax and that can be achieved through guided meditation. The best part is that you don’t need to leave your safe zone to get a guided meditation. All you have to do is open your favorite meditation app, plug in your earplugs, and listen to the guide.
Mantra or affirmations is also a way to manage panic attacks. You can create your mantra or affirmation to get through the panic attack or you can pick one that you find easy and comfortable. All you need to do is sit in a quiet place, regulate your breathing, and chant the mantra you’ve picked.
Here are a few affirmations to get you started:
I feel safe
I feel grounded
It will be OK
It will be over soon
10.Progressive Muscle Relaxation
Progressive muscle relaxation means deliberately tensing your muscles and then releasing them one by one. While it may not sound like a productive or helpful relaxation practice to cope with panic attacks, it can work. All you need to do is focus on the tensed muscles caused by the panic attack and slowly release them.
Meditation (mixed with relaxation practices) can be a helpful tool to manage panic attacks and ease the panic attack symptoms. Please note that meditation can only help ease the symptoms but is not a solution. If you’re experiencing regular panic attacks then it is recommended you speak to a professional for a long-term solution.
It’s OK to experience panic attacks and you can live a happy life where you can easily manage your panic attacks.
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I hope this article was helpful to you. Let us know what you think about meditation for panic attacks in the comments below.