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Anxiety Sufferers Share What Helps Them to Calm a Panic Attack

Living with anxiety can be tough – sometimes even debilitating. Many people who suffer from this very common disorder learn to understand their triggers, and learn how to distract or self-soothe when they start to feel too overwhelmed. We’ve compiled a list of useful techniques or helpful distractions that anxiety sufferers have kindly shared on Reddit. Sometimes, just knowing that you aren’t alone in feeling, acting and thinking this way can be hugely helpful.

I know a lot of times when I’m feeling super anxious about something my brain just flips the “everything is terrible and going wrong and nothing is right” switch, and it’s just a downward spiral. Learning to just let myself feel every emotion, even if I know it’s just the anxiety talking has helped me work through the attacks. Validate yourself and your feeling, let yourself feel whatever your brain is throwing at you, and then when you’re calmer you can sort through the emotions. It’s helped me a lot. (godoftitsandsangria)

Focusing on my breathing and then if that doesn’t work, physically stepping away/leaving the situation. Also carrying around a water and taking a sip when I need to ground myself (cmccx)

I knew someone who held an ice cube in their mouth at large group meals in order to focus themselves away from the stress of too much stimulation and it makes total sense to me that this would help.

It reminds me of something I was told somewhere some time ago (good sources, eh?) that people suffering from PTSD can utilise a grounding exercise which involves using the senses.

Something like 5, 4, 3, 2, 1. If I remember right, it’s try to pick out 5 specific things around you (sight), 4 sounds, 3 things you can touch (texture helps), 2 scents and then take 1 deep breath.

For me, it’s definitely breathing that helps. That, and if I can’t get to a quiet place, reassuring myself that “this is how I feel, but how I feel will change.” All things pass, and that goes for the bad stuff too. (Quisquousised)

There’s also another one where you name the color of everything you see around you! I’ve found that to be helpful also.

For example, Brown rug, blue kettle.

You’re basically distracting your brain from the anxiety. (deleted)

This will get buried. But weighted blanket has done wonders for me. It feels like a giant hug. Add some calm acoustic music snd about 30 minutes later I am 10x calmer (Lustforcrust)

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I get in the shower I don’t know why it helps but being cut off from life for like 5 mins really helps me (only issue is I have like 2-3 showers a day now whoops) (anonforlife123)

Music. Lots and lots of music. (Tylord2)

oddly enough, cleaning and organizing things/rooms (makidee33)

It’s actually in our nature to feel less anxious when we’re outside, especially when we’re somewhere open and can see the horizon. It’s something to do with how way back in the evolutionary process we felt valleys were more dangerous because they limited our escape routes, so being in the open reduces our anxiety. I personally feel a huge difference when I’m out on moorland or by the sea – that’s when I feel happiest and most calm. (bigbean02)


My friend got me out of a panic attack pretty quickly by just having me focus on my hands. Placing them on the table, raising above my head. It re-centers your brain almost like a reboot because for me at least a panic attack is when my anxiety gets so high my brain short circuits and everything is in overdrive. (pearljune1)

My psychologist gave me one that sounds really stupid but it works: Focus on breathing through one nostril at a time, using your fingers or just imagining it if in public, alternating L-R-R-L. It’s so dumb it’s actually engaging. (GhostsofDogma)

I do a similar focus but where I touch things with different textures – like the table, the wall, a door handle, things that are solid. It helps me feel more grounded to make physical contact with solid objects because if they are here and they are not falling apart like I am. They are as permanent in that moment as can be and that knowledge helps me recenter. (indigofoxgivesnofox)

Meditation and deep breathing. It sounds cliche, I know, but trust me it works. Learn it. (bawzzz)


You have anxiety. It may come and go but this is how your brain works and you have to learn to deal with it. Grounding techniques and body scanning help through a panic attack, mindfulness and guided meditation help me throughout the day. But knowing my triggers, accepting them and learning to recognise them as they happen is what helps me most long term. Always being aware and working on it is important. (twilekquinn)

A psychologist taught me a little trick which I find useful, as I am constantly bombarded by awful distressing images and thoughts. Acknowledge a disturbing thought. Oh, there it is! This is an upsetting thought! I’ll just place it on this bookshelf I’ve created in my mind, and look at it later. I haven’t pretended it doesn’t exist, but I haven’t allowed myself to be overcome by it right now. It’s just sitting there on the bookshelf to be dealt with later. I like it. It works for me. I have a little sketch of a bookshelf on my desk at work to remind me to do this. (UsuallyCalm)

Going in a bathroom and putting my hands under running water. (Thecookieisalie)


Grounding exercises are what I have to do when I get panicky count 5 things you can see 4 things you can touch 3 things you can hear 2 things you can smell and 1 thing you can taste. Then close your eyes and breathe slowly, rinse and repeat.

Also this will sound stupid but draw a circle on a pad of paper then place your writing tool in the middle of the circle. For whatever weird reason when I’m not too far gone that actually helps a lot. It’s something my therapist told me a while back and I brushed it off but it helps calm me down

Oh and I forgot about this one, this one takes some prep, but a “hard reset” helps on bad days. Fill a bucket or basin or bowl with ice water and dunk your face for five seconds. There’s a physiological reason this helps but I can’t remember what it is. (ed4seh5)

What helps you to calm down when anxiety or a panic attack hits?


Disclaimer: This article is not intended as medical advice. Please consult your doctor or other health care professional for expert advice on medical matters.


For people who need immediate support with depression, anxiety or suicidal thoughts call:

Lifeline provides 24-hour crisis counselling, support groups and suicide prevention services. Call 13 11 14, text 0477 13 11 14 or chat online.

Beyond Blue aims to increase awareness of depression and anxiety and reduce stigma. If you or a loved one need help, you can call 1300 22 4636, 24 hours/7 days a week or chat online.

MindSpot is a free telephone and online service for people with anxiety, stress, low mood or depression. It provides online assessment and treatment for anxiety and depression. MindSpot is not an emergency or instant response service. Call 1800 61 44 34.

Head to Health gives advice and will connect you to local mental health services. Call 1800 595 212.

MensLine Australia is a professional telephone and online counselling service offering support to Australian men. Call 1300 78 99 78, 24 hours/7 or chat online.

Suicide Call Back Service provides 24/7 support if you or someone you know is feeling suicidal. Call 1300 659 467.

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Jolene enjoys writing, sharing and connecting with other like-minded women online – it also gives her the perfect excuse to ignore Mount-Washmore until it threatens to bury her family in an avalanche of Skylander T-shirts and Frozen Pyjama pants. (No one ever knows where the matching top is!) Likes: Reading, cooking, sketching, dancing (preferably with a Sav Blanc in one hand), social media, and sitting down on a toilet seat that one of her children hasn’t dripped, splashed or sprayed on. Dislikes: Writing pretentious crap about herself in online bio’s and refereeing arguments amongst her offspring.

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