How to Cope With Panic in Public

If you have ever:
  • Had a panic attack in a public place.
  • Had to leave an event because of panic.
  • Had to cancel or not attend something because of panic.
  • Struggled to control panic attacks and ground yourself.
This article is for you.

I have been caught in the midst of panic in public more often than I would care to admit. I've had to abandon my seat whilst watching my local football team so many times it becomes difficult to explain why I need to dart off so frequently. Over the years of therapy and dealing with panic attacks I have learned some methods of coping which really do help bring myself back to the moment, even in public.

The anxiety, following me everywhere. Like a thick fog it surrounds everything. Drowning out every sound so all I can hear is the "what if's?" - cant focus, breathing rate increases, panic attack incoming!

This is when I try box breathing. A very simple technique to slow and regulate your breathing to bring yourself back under control.

Slowly inhale through the nose for four seconds, hold your breathe for four seconds, slowly exhale to four seconds. Repeat three to four times as required.

If that doesn't work, I like to try the 5,4,3,2,1 anxiety grounding technique.

5 - Acknowledge 5 things you can see. It could be a sign, car, pen or anything in your surroundings.
4 - Four things you can touch. It could be a table, a tree, the grass, a jumper.
3 - What can you hear? Focus on your surroundings and find three things you can hear.
2 - Describe two things you can smell. Freshly cut grass, a perfume or anything else you can smell.
1 - Taste. What does the inside of your mouth taste like? Coffee, your last meal? Think of one thing you can taste.

Usually the above is enough to ground me and allow me to continue with my day. Hopefully this is some help to you too.

Photo by Karen Lau on Unsplash
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