Recently, during a Facebook Live broadcast, someone asked me how she can resist the urge to run during a panic attack. She explained that when one of her children is mad at her, she begins to panic because anger triggers anxiety (from past abuse). During a panic attack, she feels a strong urge to run away and hide.
It is very common as parents to encounter our children angry. Kids (and people of all ages) often express more frustration and complaining to close loved ones when they feel it, longing for compassion and understanding. That is why it is a easy let anger fly within a family where you’re safe to express your true feelings. You can let your hair down and not be perfect, and everyone will still love you.
(Caveat: While it is appropriate and understandable for people to get angry, I’m not condoning being mean to others while you’re angry. We know kids will get angry and when they cross the line, it is up to use those times as teachable moments for how to channel it more productively.)
For this woman, however, her kids’ angry emotions caused her panic attacks, even though she knows their anger isn’t dangerous or out of the ordinary. During a panic attack, she gets this urge to run, and she closes down in an act of self protection. This means she draws herself in emotionally and consciously, and can appear to others like she is ignoring them, or doesn’t care.
Anxiety, in general, wants us to pull away from people we love, so I am not surprised by this. During a panic attack, it wants our full attention, so it can sustain it’s control over us.
Unfortunately, this is not good for relationships. For one, it makes her kids more angry, as they experience this as invalidation of their feelings. And two, she is missing the teachable moments to address their concerns. She no longer wants to pull away from her loved ones, and so she asked me to make this video to give her an alternative.
What not to do during a Panic Attack
Even if you have anxiety in other situations, you probably can recognize the urge to run during a panic attack. Your skin is crawling, you’re body is full of energy and you want to MOVE it.
I ran away from anxiety for many years. Unfortunately, this made my anxiety worse. This intensified it.
Because when we run, we let the anxiety know that we are scared of it. This makes the anxiety bigger and gives it power over us. This is not hat you want if you have anxiety.
Watch the video and learn what you can do instead…
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Take some time
When you are in the middle of a panic attack and have closed yourself off, all you need is some time. You’re too close to the chaos to just try and get through it where you are. But at the same time, you don’t need to run off. Here’s what I suggest instead: excuse yourself and go to the restroom. This is a totally normal thing that the people around you won’t even think twice about! And it will allow you the space you need to get through the panic attack at your own pace.
Getting yourself out of the chaos of a panic attack in a socially appropriate way is the first step in taking your power back from the anxiety. In the privacy of the restroom you have some valuable moments to breathe, to talk yourself down and help yourself FEEL BETTER! You can look at the situation from a distance as opposed to being in the thick of it.
When you’re ready, you can go back. And if it was a one-on-one conversation, you can return to it without any drama. The other person doesn’t have to feel upset or like you abandoned them because all you did was go to the restroom.
Remember: Anxiety is highly treatable.
You may not think you can stop the anxiety, but you can. I’ve walked many people through getting over their anxiety and I know that you can change this. Learn how to work with me.
How do you resist the urge to run during a panic attack? I’d love to hear from you.