Using the best relaxation techniques when you are having a panic attack can appear to be hopeless but there are basic steps that are easy to do and remember. Knowing that a panic attack will affect your body first, then your thought reaction can help use these relaxation techniques without much thought. It is also important to remember not to give up quickly if the relaxation technique does not appear to be working immediately. Because our body and mind are responding without conscious thought it can take a couple of minutes to sync up our conscious cognitive thoughts and body response when a panic attack occurs.
What Are the Best Relaxation Techniques
Because the body and your thoughts create a compound reaction when you are having a panic attack it is important to make sure that you are addressing both. It is also important to note that there is a chain reaction that is triggered. Understanding this is helpful in the use of relaxation techniques by identifying what part of that chain you are focusing on. A panic attack starts with an unconscious trigger that then activates your body response which send a message to the cognitive part of the brain to respond with thought. Your body responds with an elevation of all automatic functioning. Your heart rate increases sending the signal to your body to run, stay, or fight. After that occurs your mind will respond usually accelerating the panic with thoughts of fear and confusion. This creates the looped chain reaction of a panic attack. Once your body is activated by the triggering event your thoughts confirm the panic your body is having. The following relaxation techniques address all parts of that loop.
Breathing techniques are the most common relaxation techniques to use when having a panic attack. But it is important to remember that as you are doing breathing techniques you are also activating a thought response simultaneously. Because you are telling yourself you must breathe fear is compounded. Breathing is usually an automatic function. If we must tell ourselves to breathe the unconscious reaction is there is something wrong. That is why the practice of deep breathing is done when you are not having a panic attack. Becoming aware of you breathe and practicing long inhales, and slow exhales when you are not in panic will create a pattern in your brain and your unconscious thought will not think of this as an emergency situation when you are doing it in the middle of the panic attack. This type of deep breathing can be incorporated into habitualized action through the practice of meditation. When we are practicing meditation techniques, we are using the same type of breathing that relaxes us when we are in panic.
Best Apps for breathing and mediation relaxation techniques:
Calm has been ranked as the number one app for instilling relaxation by helping to create a daily practice. This app will allow you to decide how much time you can dedicate to meditation practice each day. It will also help you track your mood throughout the day, giving you the added benefit of identifying stressful situations that you may not be aware of. Along with these features Calm provides natural sounds and sleep stories to help you fall asleep.
Breathwrk is an app that will teach you how to breathe through guided exercises that are backed by research. The app will show you how to do exercises. It also has the capability to send reminders to breathe throughout the day. The techniques they teach have been tested and are used by Olympic Athletes, Psychologists, Yoga Experts, Navy SEALs, and Zen Masters. Breathwrk is like having your own personal breathing coach.
Pay Attention to Your Thoughts
Usually when you are having a panic attack your thoughts are working against you. Your thoughts spiral out of control because they are reacting to your body response. If you do not focus and repeatedly redirect your thoughts you will confirm the panic you are experiencing in your body response. Saying calm and relaxing words or repeating a mantra over and over changes the automatic body response by letting it know that everything is ok, and panic is not necessary. Setting yourself up with go to phrases when you are not experiencing panic, again will allow for easy recall and not appear as a crisis response. Having quotes sent to your phone, memorizing a favorite phrase and journaling everyday help to solidify relaxing thoughts in the cognitive part of your brain. It may sound silly to think that you need to consistently be aware and practice your self-talk but when panic occurs if you have not trained your big brain to able to fight the panic you will lose. So, part of getting off the merry go round of a panic attack is practicing mental self-talk that evokes relaxation, peace, and calm.
Best apps for changing your thoughts.
Shine is a free app developed by psychologists and educators to help bring balance to your life. This app provides different guided meditations that focus on positivity and elimination of negative thoughts by focusing on the present moment. It is based on evidenced based practices. The best part is that change can happen by using it only 10 minutes a day.
Happify provides basic features that can be upgraded to use additional options. This app uses techniques that train your brain to overcome negative thought patterns. Through positive affirmations the app teaches you to adopt positive techniques that will help you relax. The app provides games and activities that can be done in a short snippet of time. They also provide you with a happiness score that you can track to see your progress as you incorporate the tools provided daily.