This amazing video talks about the science of our body reacts to stress by flooding us with hormones to take action in a crisis. Some of us who experienced constant trauma tend to over produce these reactions. They go on to talk about how professionals use breathing to control these reactions. People like military and police learn to control their breathing during a stressful incident.
I've mentioned before that one way I get to sleep comes from breathing in on a count of four, holding for two then out on four. I guess I knew it also worked for curbing a panic attack, I just hadn't consciously used breathing for those kinds of things.
I felt "meditation" seemed too close to some kind of faith based activity. I have recently realized that at its core, meditation is simply an exercise in practiced breathing. I'm down with that. Though I think we can do it anywhere, anytime in any position.
So take a breath and clear your mind. Train yourself during moments of calm so that when things are decidedly NOT calm you can remember what it was like.
Evolution trained our bodies to fight or flee danger. It will take time to learn how to redirect these impulses into new self preservation strategies. We must continue to value ourselves during these learning times.
Some of us may have to use medication along with breathing to reverse years of trained reaction. Do whatever makes sense to you and your medical professional. I prefer to explore calming and thinking strategies before going for drug intervention. Keep in mind that only YOU can decide what is best. Please carefully research medication as there are side effects that may detract from their effectiveness.
Just after some breathing, consider making a list of things that create stress strong enough to trigger a panic attack. Write down as many as you can think of and then assign a value to the amount of anxiety each event causes.
For me, going to the doctor is a recent stressor. They do need to do exams to make sure my blood pressure is stable and I don't have a recurrence of cancer. I notice that if I exercise before going to the doctor's office, my pressure is lower and I feel less anxious. So I try and make that part of my plan.
Go over your own list and figure what personal actions will help you through the stress. Some places and even people might need to be avoided for a time. Just until you figure out how to handle them without triggering a panic attack.
Keep calm and remember to breathe. Kind comments welcome