Gain Control
by jennymarie4, Peace from Panic
November 10, 2017

Iíve been thinking about panic attacks lately ó not because Iím having them. But because both of my daughters have been dealing with anxiety, so itís been on my mind.

Mackenzie and Talee are in their twenties. Along with inheriting imbalanced serotonin (from me), they also have the millennial stressors of working, living on their own, and being financially independent.

Talee called me the other night and we got into a conversation about possible triggers for panic and what to do when we feel it coming on. I hadnít thought about this for awhile, and it felt good to revisit it. To be mindful of what might cause my anxiety, and actions I can take to stop it.

Itís amazing to feel empowered. To know that Iím in control of my panic, instead of it controlling me.

I used to have panic attacks every time I went to the grocery store, the mall, and when I drove. Hereís a list of some triggers that Talee and I talked about:

  • Bright fluorescent lights, like in offices or grocery stores
  • Big box stores that donít have windows or an easy exit
  • Being hungry; can cause lightheadedness and dizziness, which can make you feel like youíre having a panic attack
  • Driving in traffic, especially stuck in the middle lane
  • Shopping at an inside mall
  • Working out in a crowded gym
  • Waiting in a long line or being in the middle of a long drive-thru line
  • Drinking coffee or soda; caffeine can make you jittery and anxious
  • Sitting in the middle of a movie theater, in the middle of a row
  • Getting a shot or seeing blood
  • Seeing or hearing someone throw up
  • Major life changes: a new school, graduation, a new job, moving into your first apartment, getting married, having a baby, getting a divorce, illness, an ill family member, and financial struggles


Talee and I discussed what to do if we feel panicky. We find itís best to distract ourselves, instead of focusing on the panic attack. Here are some of our distraction ideas:

  • Concentrate on your breathing; slow inhales, slow exhales. Breathe deep, not shallow
  • Chew gum
  • Talk to someone
  • Be mindful of the present; look at your surroundings and remind yourself that youíre safe
  • Focus on an object and notice every detail about it
  • Sing
  • Say the alphabet or count to 100
  • Look at your phone; see what your friends are up to on Instagram and Snapchat, check emails and texts
  • Wear a rubber-band around your wrist and snap it to bring yourself to the present
  • Twirl a ring or bracelet
  • Keep a small object in your purse, like a tiny stuffed animal or squish ball, to touch and squeeze
  • Go outside

Itís hard to think rationally or logically during a panic attack. Actually, itís impossible. Thatís why itís important to feel prepared, and accept and acknowledge our panic. We feel more in control because weíre aware of what may trigger our anxiety. Weíre empowered because if we do have a panic attack, we know what works best to stop it.

Knowledge is key. Knowledge is power.