How to Stop a Panic Attack in Five Gentle Steps – My Experience

stop panic attack five steps

Reader, it happened to me. When you have a panic attack or are feeling overwhelmed, ground yourself and start at five.

I have anxiety; I have had it for over 10 years now. I have changed my diet, stopped drinking caffeine, started doing yoga, and have read about ways to deal with having a panic attack. The following method has helped me the most with stopping an attack.

An example. Picture it. (Though only gently. Not too much. If you also live with panic attacks, I don’t want to send you back to that place…)

I feel my heart beating against my chest. My palms start to sweat and I can feel every muscle in my body tense up. I start to breathe heavy, short breaths; I clench my fists as I try to remember the five steps to help stop a panic attack.

I had used the method a few times, but I couldn’t think. All I could focus on was trying to get my heart to stop racing and my mind to focus.

Five, what five things can I see in my car?

The speedometer on the dashboard, breath in

My sunglasses clipped on the visor, breath out

The trash bag from the local bakery on the floor, breath in

The symbol on the steering wheel of the car, breath out

The rear view mirror with the moon shining in it, breath in

Four, what are four things I can touch?

I force myself to unclench my fists and grab my shifter knob, breath out

I reach out and touch the cloth passenger seat, breath in

I open the centre console and open the lid, then shut it, breath out

I grab the steering wheel again, breath in

I can feel my body starting to relax. My muscles aren’t as tense as they were. My fists are no longer being forced to clench, but I know this is the calm before the storm. If I don’t do my counting, it will start up again.

Three, what are three things I can hear?

I hear the ringing in my ears from the silence as I sit in the car, breath out

I hear my heartbeat slowing down, breath in

I push the on/off button for the radio to hear the clicking of the button, breath out

Two, what are two things I smell?

I smell the car air freshener, sweet pineapple, breath in

A sweet smell comes from a banana peel, I ate the banana before I left work, breath out

One, what is one thing I can taste?

I look around my car and grab my pop from the drink holder. I take a big sip and taste the fizziness of the pop dancing on my tongue as I swallow slowly; I breathe in as I sip, and then out.

To remind yourself, to never forget, write this list down in your bullet journal or elsewhere:

Five Steps to Stop a Panic Attack

  • Five – what five things can I see?
  • Four – what four things can I touch?
  • Three – what three things can I hear?
  • Two – what two things can I smell?
  • One – what one thing can I taste?

So, when you are feeling overwhelmed or have a racing mind, ground yourself and start at five.