How to Calm Panic and Anxiety FAST
What happens when we experience panic? When our brain’s amygdala alerts us to danger, our body often defaults to:
- FIGHT (I need to fight for my survival.)
- FLIGHT (I need to get to safety.) or
- FREEZE (when we have no control over our body’s reaction)
- FAINT (when your brain and body get overwhelmed)
It’s not uncommon for us to feel intense terror, a rapid heartbeat, sweaty or clammy skin, chest pain, shortness of breath, or any other symptoms of distress. This stress response was useful years ago when we needed to respond to actual danger for our survival. Today, this response is often triggered by the emotional pressures in our modern lives. Panic is our warning system, and it serves a purpose. It tells us we are extremely overwhelmed and need to make some changes. Once we understand panic’s purpose, it often becomes less scary.
HOW CAN YOU HELP YOURSELF?
- By utilizing breath work, our bodies can quickly tell our brains to calm down. One simple breathing technique we can use anytime and anywhere is the 4-7-8 method. This involves us breathing in for 4 seconds, holding our breath for 7 seconds, and exhaling for 8 seconds. Other distraction techniques proven beneficial include listening to music, petting our dog or cat, taking a walk, or calling a supportive friend.
- Another technique used to treat panic and anxiety is Accelerated Resolution Therapy (ART), which is carried out with a trained ART therapist. This is an evidenced-based therapy that uses eye movements, imagery, and guidance to help your brain better process and store stressful images. When these are processed and stored differently, they no longer trigger negative physical and emotional reactions like panic or anxiety. Using a series of relaxing eye movements, we can help you move beyond your stuck points towards growth and positive change. You are in complete control during these sessions, and you don’t even need to talk about your stressful images or memories to achieve recovery.
If you need help with panic or anxiety, or if you want help processing a past or future event, reach out to an ART therapist at Tampa Therapy & Wellness!
Call us at 813-530-5180.