When my anxiety first hit, I would have anxiety attacks in public frequently. In church, youth group, grocery stores, school, family events, and so on. If you know anything about panic attacks, you know it is not something you want to happen in public. I’ll give you brief overview: shaking, rapid breathing, suffocating feeling, crying, and sweating. Definitely not a pleasant ordeal, especially not in public where anyone can see it.
That said, panic attacks are like a wild mustang—they take work and practice to tame. So what do you do to prevent or tame or anxiety attacks when you are in public? Here are some key practices to help equip you for panic attacks.
Strengthening against panic attacks.
Have a support person with you.
Honestly, this one probably helped me the most; having someone to stand by me and talk me down in those high stress and fearful moments was one of the most reassuring things I have experienced. If you don’t have a support person already, I would totally suggest finding one.
Don’t stop what you are doing.
When I stop what I’m doing in the middle of an anxiety attack, it overwhelms me way quicker because my thoughts are left to simply focus on what is happening in my mind and how I am feeling.
Grounding is the technique where you observe your setting and list off what you see, what you hear, what you feel (physically with your hands and feet), and what you smell. This helps to keep you in reality when your mind is pumping adrenaline through your veins telling you that you have reason to be afraid.
In a panic attack it’s easy to hyperventilate, therefore you need to force yourself to breathe right. A technique I learned was triangle breathing; inhale for four seconds, hold for four, and exhale for four.
Similar to grounding, you focus in on one object and describe in every way possible (ex: there’s a notebook, it’s rectangular, it’s pink, its sparkly, it’s thick…).
Know the exits.
If it comes to the point that you need to get away from the public eye and have a melt down, you want to know where the best escape is.
Living with anxiety is definitely not fun or easy, but it is possible. I thought I would never get past the anxiety and would never get a grip on the attacks, but I did. It took time and patience with myself and adjustments in my lifestyle. You have to be willing to commit to doing what it takes to get better. You also need to believe in yourself; that means no self-criticism or condemnation when you slip up or fall apart, but instead working as hard as you can to stay positive. I know it sounds daunting and hard, but you are totally capable of it. Believe me, if I can do it, so can you.
That’s all for now! Do you have any other techniques for surviving anxiety attacks in public? Please share!
About the Author: Lara Fraser
Hey! My name is Lara Fraser (soon to be Lara d’Entremont). I am currently enrolled in a Bachelor of Ministry majoring in Christian Counselling. With these courses I hope to one day be working at a human trafficking rescue centre helping teen girls recover from their awful experiences. I enjoy writing, reading, blogging, riding horses, and pilates. I have a passion for helping others (especially teens) by sharing my story and experiences. You can find my blog at lightscameraanxiety.ca and my Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/lcanxiety/