How To Stop A Panic Attack

Willow Creek | August 4, 2022

If you’ve experienced a panic attack, whether you’ve had one or many, you know that it’s helpful to have good techniques to stop a panic attack. Here are six simple and effective tools proven to stop a panic attack:

  1. Divert your brain. Using diversion tactics to stop thinking about your panic attack and bring your mind out of the chaos is a great way to stop a panic attack and calm your brain. Giving yourself simple math problems to solve in your head takes your brain away from the spiraling and gives it something else on which to concentrate. It can be as simple as 2+2=4, 3+3=6. 

Some people like to tell jokes in their head or imagine a shopping list they need to make. Anything that will divert your brain from the panic will help. 

  1. Tapping. Cross your arms and tap with your hands on your upper arms. This technique reconnects your brain to your body, and the rhythmic tapping calms your brain down. You’re giving your brain something else to focus on other than the panic.

You can also tap your fingers on your knees, forehead, or anywhere else! Tapping your feet will also work. Tapping is a calming and soothing way to help divert your brain and bring your breathing rate down, helping to stop a panic attack. There are even free smartphone apps that can guide you through tapping.

  1. Breathing. During a panic attack, concentrating on your breathing and deliberately slowing it down will work for many to stop a panic attack. It’s very simple, too; breathe in for four seconds, and breathe out for four seconds, counting the seconds in your head. Keep repeating that pattern until you’re calm. You’re intentionally bringing the rate of your breathing down to a much slower pace, which helps to bring your heart rate down and stop a panic attack.
  2. Engage your senses. Try this technique to reconnect your brain with your body and divert it from the panic: think about five things you can see, four things you can hear, three things you can feel, two things you can smell, and one thing you can taste. This technique, like the math problems, provides a distraction for the brain, bringing it out of the cycle of panic and calming you down.
  3. Call someone you trust. Having a friendly ear to help you through a panic attack can be an enormous help. Ask a trusted friend to talk about their day, or have them ask you simple questions so you have to concentrate on something other than the panic attack. Sometimes, just knowing someone is with you can be a great comfort and bring some calm.
  4. Pray. Speaking of knowing someone is with you, remember that God is always available to talk to you! We believe in the immense power of prayer, and during a panic attack, talking to God can be comforting and calming. Again, it distracts your brain, giving you something else on which to concentrate. God is always with you through everything you’re experiencing and wants to help you. Call on Him and ask for help. He will freely give it because God loves you as His own child. Lift up your panic attack to Him; give it to God, and He will take it. It doesn’t have to be fancy or formal; talk to Him just like you would to a friend.

What can you do after a panic attack? Seeking professional help may be a great way to get to the cause of your panic attacks and help prevent future ones from happening. Find a counselor, and be open and honest with them about your panic attacks and the circumstances around them.

Talk to friends and family; you’ll probably find others who have experience with panic attacks as well. Sharing your experiences and discovering why you’re having panic attacks may be the way to help stop a panic attack.

Save this blog post for easy access in the future, or periodically remind yourself of these six helpful tips so that you’ll remember them when it’s time to stop a panic attack. Share this with your loved ones to see if they have other suggestions of tactics that have helped them.

Helpful apps for people who suffer with panic attacks.

How To Find A Counselor and Make The Most of Your Visits.

REBUILD Grief Support Group at Willow Creek.

What is RECOVER and Who is it For? Find out about our recovery support group.

For more practical ways to deal with mental health issues, and stories of others who have been there too, go here for our full list of resources.