Under the Hood

What Is A Panic Attack? 4 Ways To Reduce Anxiety Symptoms And Improve Coping Skills

We've all been ridden with anxiety — the unsettling feeling in the pit of our stomach when we're about to take a test; the sweaty palms when we're about to meet new people; or our throat closing up when we're about to spill our guts (sometimes, literally) to tell someone we like them. Worrying about everyday situations is common, but for 40 million adults in the U.S. with anxiety disorders, this state of fear can become so uncontrollable and unrealistic, it can hinder them. Overwhelming anxiety that interferes with our daily life can be difficult to grasp, but Soul Pancake's Marie Jacquemin has created a "virtual panic attack" video to show people what it's like to live with anxiety.

"It's just there, inside my brain," said Jacquemin, in the video. She added: "Some days I have it under control. I can curb my thoughts and soften my worries."

Rather than tell us about her anxiety, Jacquemin shows us how anxiety manifests itself, and can lead to a panic attack. It starts off small like a dripping tap, or a pencil drumming on a desk. It stays in the back of the mind where you can hear it and feel it. "It's constant and irritating," she said. The anxiety becomes more prominent, and suddenly it's surrounding the person.

Panic leaves the heart pounding in the chest, lungs gasping for air, hands shaking, and the skin tingling. Feelings of nausea grow, the chest starts aching, and body temperature goes up. Most of the time, there's no cause for this panic attack, unlike anxiety attacks, where there's usually a stressor that provokes them.

So, if we're ridden with anxiety and feel restless, Jacquemin suggests four ways to reduce these unsettling fears. Rather than pacing at home, she recommends pacing outside and walking it off — listening to a playlist of nature sounds or songs can help calm us down. Meanwhile, exercising will help deviate the excess energy from our fight or flight reflex. Lastly, calling someone we trust, and not hanging up the phone until we feel relaxed is a good way to calm our nerves.

Mental health issues can make some of us feel alienated, but they don't define us or make us weak.

Jacquemin hopes de-stigmatizing these diseases through awareness will help people struggling with these disorders, and give them one less thing to worry about — and even if they still worry, that's OK too.

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