Preventing and Dealing with Panic Attacks in Public

Hey guys it’s Casy. So today I’ve decided to blog about preventing panic attacks in public. Personally, my social anxiety can be a bit random. It’s definitely not the most prominent out of all my disorders but panic attacks are horrendous. Experiencing panic attacks in public are terrifying, especially if you’re alone. I’ve had my fair share of experience and have managed to get ways to help prevent panic attacks. Obviously this isn’t always possible, so I’m going to be talking about how I deal with having panic attacks in public (and at home). I really hope these help as being paranoid about having panic attacks is an issue I’m all too familiar with, and it can prevent you from taking part in days out, shopping trips etc. These really simple bits of advice have completely transformed the way I think about my panic attacks and I hope they could help!!

My ‘Anxiety’ Kit: Ok so this is an idea that has helped so incredibly much with panic disorder and that sort of thing. Whenever I’m going out for the day, like shopping, I’ll always make sure I have my little Anxiety ‘Kit’ in my bag. For me it is a little pouch with everything that personally helps settle my anxiety. Obviously everybody’s is different, so it really depends on what helps you! This is what I like to keep in mine. Don’t be worried about seeming excessive, because feeling prepare can really help settle anxiety.

What I keep in mine: 

  • Sugary sweets – Whenever I’m feeling anxious, or having a panic attack, I get super paranoid I’m going to faint. I’ve got quite low blood pressure, meaning if I’m ill, or panicking, my body is quite prone to faint if I’ve not got enough sugar. This is brilliant for me as it takes away that massive paranoia of fainting in public.
  • Earphones – My Spotify is full of playlists aimed for if I’m ever in a public situation and feeling anxious. Being able to sit down and listen to them is a really effective way at preventing panic attacks or trying to stop them. I’d definitely reccomend signing up for Spotify if you’ve not already, because it makes accessing your playlists so much simpler. 
  • A bracelet or elastic bands – This ones pretty random, but when I’m feeling anxious, fiddling is a really good distraction. I find the more I’m thinking about how bad my anxiety is, the worse it gets. Keeping a bracelet or a similar item in my bag has been extremely helpful.
  • A bottle of water – Keeping a bottle of water in my bag is essential. Not only does it keep me hydrated, but it’s brilliant at naturally helping to slow down anxiety during a panic attack. 
  • My Phone – Obviously this is always with me, but I felt like just adding it in, because I’ve got tons of anxiety relieving apps on there (blog post on them here). And, my phone is just a brilliant distraction, whether it’s just flicking through my photos or scrolling through Twitter.
  •  A spare £5 Note – My anxiety can always make me assume that everything bad is going to happen and I’m often getting panicky about having enough money for my bus home, or having no spare change for the parking meter. I always like to make sure I’ve got at least an emergency £5 note on me, and this helps so much.
  • My Seascape Oil – This oil is a life-saver in anxiety provoking situations. It is just a rollerball with an extremely relaxing oil in it. I pop it on my pulse points whenever I’m feeling anxious, and it is really nice to know I’ve got this with me. It has lavender scents so is super relaxing and helps kick back at anxiety!
  • Hand Cream – This is a new addition to my handbag, but is extremely helpful especially with how cold it’s been getting recently! This is sort of similar to the bracelet technique, where it just takes my mind away from the panic. It’s so simple but really effective, and my hands are super moisturised afterwards.
  • Notepad and Pen – When my anxietys really bad I like to sit and scribble all those times I’ve had an anxiety attack before and managed, and remind myself that this will end. This is really relaxing and also shows you how strong you are for getting through this before. I’m also just that super organised person who likes to have a piece of paper on them ‘just in case’. 

Obviously there are often bits and pieces in there tailored to where I’m going but those are my staples!!

Find a quite space if you’re feeling anxious in public: Anxiety attacks don’t just go away, so just trying to ignore them probably won’t work (unless you’re really lucky!), so my best advice is to find a quiet cafe, order yourself a sugary, hot drink and pop in you headphones. Try distraction techniques, and always remember that without food, you’re a lot more likely to faint. If there are no cafes nearby, I’d recommend the shoe department in a clothes store, because you’ll be able to sit down and take some time out. Quieter stores are always nicer, preferably not ones with ‘Sorry’ playing on maximum volume. I find Departement stores’ clothes departments such as John Lewis can be quite quiet. Changing areas are also a great place to lock yourself away for five minutes and settle your anxiety. I’d not reccomend toilets, only as a last resort, as from experience, they’re not exactly tranquil! 

Eat something! : Easier said then done, I know. I find that even if my eating disorder isn’t being too harsh that day, whenever I’m feeling anxious, my hunger is completely non-existent and I’m certain that I’ll just bring anything straight back up (Sorry bit tmi). Try and have some sugary sweets or a sugary drink. These can help kick back at anxiety almost straight away. Coca-Cola is a life-saver as it gets to work almost immediately. Any food is good though. Think back to the last time you ate. When having a busy shopping day, it’s often really easy to forget, so make sure you always eat a good meal because shopping is TIRING. If you’re finding that your stomach just doesn’t feel up to it, try taking really small bites, or try to relax first and then eat.

Know your day before hand: This is a really good anxiety preventer. Personally, I’ll not leave before knowing exactly where I’m going. Maybe don’t go somewhere completely new on your own, especially if you’ve been having a lot of anxiety recently. Even though the idea might seem fine, being in a strange, big place on your own and having an anxiety attack is just as horrific as you can probably imagine. Trust me.

It’s ok to go home: Sometimes we just want to go home and that doesn’t make us antisocial or rude. If you’ve tried to get rid of your anxiety and it’s just ruining your day then heading back home is perfectly ok. If you were out and suddenly started to have a horrible headache or stomach pains, you’d go home, so try and treat your anxiety like that. I would say to give it twenty minutes – half an hour before calling it quits, because it’s not actually physically possible for the peak of a panic attack to last any longer than that. Even if the worst of your anxiety is over, it can still be awful, so don’t best yourself up about just going home, but make sure you give it a little bit of time and put in time to try and get rid of that anxiety heading back, because then you’ve tried your best!

Those are my tips on preventing and dealing with panic attacks in public! Let me know if I’ve missed any that you find really helpful in the comments because I’d love to see them and I’m sure so many others would as well 🙂 Don’t be afraid of public situations, try and be prepared, because it helps a lot! Until next time,

Casy x

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