What to do During a Panic Attack - Using Grounding Techniques

If you’ve ever suffered a panic attack, you understand the terrifying experience having one can be. Panic attacks are the result of extreme anxiety and can bring about a number of debilitating physical symptoms. So, if you are a sufferer of panic attacks, it’s helpful to understand what to do during a panic attack to help them pass and get back to a place of peace. Fortunately, there are a few grounding techniques that people can use who experience panic attacks that are helpful in reducing stress and the severe effects of panic attacks in real-time.

What are Grounding Techniques for Panic Attacks?

During a panic attack, a person who is experiencing them can have sudden and intense feelings and physical effects. Grounding techniques are methods that can be used during a panic attack to reduce anxiety and fear in order to bring a person having a panic attack back to reality. As panic attacks are brought on by a sense of danger that may not be present, reducing this fear and coming back to the present can help to reduce the effects of a panic attack. Certainly, grounding strategies aren’t a permanent solution to panic attacks but can be used during one in order to overcome the intense feelings that come about during one.

There are three different types of grounding techniques that can be helpful for people who experience panic attacks; physical, emotional, and soothing.

Physical Grounding Techniques for Use During Panic Attacks

Since panic attacks can affect a person physically by bringing about a racing heartbeat, profuse sweating, and chest pains, using physical grounding techniques can help to overcome these physical effects of panic attacks. Some of these techniques include:

  • touching nearby objects in order to remind yourself of reality
  • squeezing blankets or pillows
  • running water on your skin (either cool or warm)
  • focusing on what your body is doing or touching
  • controlling your breathing

Cognitive Grounding Techniques for Use During Panic Attacks

Panic attacks are often brought on by feelings of danger that bring about fear even though there may not be an imminent danger present. During panic attacks, this fear can bring about a number of intense emotions. Attempting to control and reduce these emotions by using mental strategies can help to stop the severity and length of a panic attack. Some cognitive tools and regulation techniques to utilize during panic attacks can include:

  • focusing on and pinpointing your physical surroundings
  • concentrating on a mental picture in your mind (your ‘happy’ place)
  • listing off items in various categories (colors, brands of cars, etc.)
  • remember a pleasant or funny event
  • reciting cognitive tools (counting backward, reciting a poem, etc.)
Soothing Grounding Techniques for Use During Panic Attacks

Being able to control thoughts and emotions during a panic attack is key for making the panic and fear reside. Using soothing tools can help to reduce the intense emotions brought on by a panic attack faster. Some of these soothing techniques include:

  • give yourself encouraging words
  • remember and think about those who love and appreciate you
  • think about things you live for and look forward to

Getting Help for Panic Disorder Through Delray Center for Healing

While grounding techniques are a great way to conquer the age-old question of what to do during a panic attack, they are not enough to keep them at bay. Panic attacks are a characterizing symptom of panic disorder, which is an anxiety disorder. It’s a mental health condition that can be helped through treatment, like what’s available at Delray Center for Healing. At our outpatient mental health facility, we provide people struggling with panic attacks with the tools they need to manage and reduce the severity of their panic attacks.