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Support & Wellbeing

Quick tips for panic attacks

By SophieResLife 23 Jan 2020

  • Try deep belly breathing. Put your hand on your belly, breathe deeply into your stomach, and then breathe out slowly while counting. Make sure your out-breath is longer than your in-breath...1, 2, 3 and 1, 2, 3, 4. Repeat this until you feel calm again. You can practice this technique anytime you feel stressed or overwhelmed. Why not start with this online breathing exercise?
  • Repeat a mantra - Think of a phrase that makes you feel reassured, and repeat it when you sense a panic attack coming on. Whatever you're feeling – it's not dangerous and it will pass. This can help you feel calmer, and less fearful of future attacks. 
  • Let it out - Try taking to someone you trust about how you feel e.g. friends, family or your Residence Life Mentor.
  • Join a support group - This can be a way of meeting people who understand exactly how you're feeling. You can share your stories and coping strategies without feeling that you might be judged. The University runs several free drop-in mental wellbeing workshops, open to every student, during term time.  Check their website for more information.  
  • Practice mindfulness - Practice being completely present when performing a short routine task like brushing your teeth or making a cup of tea. Really focus sensations, colours, smells and sounds.
  • Meditate - There are plenty of apps that can help with this. Headspace, offers a free version that includes meditations and exercises led by the co-founder Andy Puddicombe to teach you the essentials. Calm is the perfect meditation app for beginners (there's a seven-day beginner's programme), but it also includes programmes for more advanced users. Aura described as a 'new kind of mindfulness app', it learns about you by asking questions. You then receive a daily three-minute mindfulness meditation based on your answers. Stop, Breathe & Think offers customisation tools that deliver meditations based on your current emotions and feelings. Insight Timer offers a social network for meditators.
  • Music - How about some relaxing jazz music or listening to the waves on YouTube? It could bring a sense of peace and serenity on a challenging day.
  • Journal -  Keep a daily journal to jot down your thoughts and reflect on your mental health. Just write whatever pops into your mind, and how this makes you feel. Look back over time. Do you notice any particular patterns or triggers?
  • Know your coping mechanisms - Try some of the tips above and see what works for you. These might change over time. Write them down on a small card (e.g. phone mum, do my breathing exercises), and keep this in your bag or wallet ready for when you need it. 

Check out the University Counselling Service's advice here.

If you’re not sure whether you or someone else is experiencing a panic attack then call Security Services on 0114 222 4444 for an ambulance immediately. The symptoms are often similar to a heart attack so if you are not sure then do not delay in contacting help. 

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SophieResLife Sophie Strong, Residence Life Coordinator (Engagement & Development)
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