Believe it or not, riptides and panic attacks have a lot in common. As different as they both are, there are some major similarities that will help you understand how to deal with a panic attack more effectively.
What are Riptides?
A rip tide is a strong, turbulent current in an ocean or river that crosses over other currents. These currents are very strong and will pull whatever is in it along for the ride.
No one has ever been able to fight their way against a rip tide. However, there are right ways to deal with a rip tide that will save your life.
If you were swimming in the ocean and experienced a rip tide, it would begin to pull you out to sea. Many people automatically try to swim against the tide which is a huge mistake. The harder they try to fight a rip tide, the further and further the rip tide would take them. Many would panic and fight harder, causing exhaustion and then possibly drowning as a result.
These channels of water are usually only between 25-100 yards wide. Should you ever get caught in a riptide, the best method of dealing with it would be to just float with it. When your head is clear, it is best to swim parallel to the shoreline or at best, diagonal. Swim lightly or better yet, on your back.
When you notice you are no longer being pulled, you can safely swim back to shore.
It is important to note that riptides are stronger and more likely to happen when the surf is rough or rough winds are present.
Okay so what does this have to do with panic?
Just like riptides, no one has been able to fight against a panic attack and win.
The only way to deal with a panic attack is to deal with it like you would a riptide, to float and then begin to tell yourself the truth. This is the only way to make it back to shore. By fighting against an attack, you would only be exhausting yourself, making yourself more anxious and distressed. But unlike being caught in a riptide, you would not drown while standing in line or going to the dentist. :)
Just as there are limits to the size of a riptide, there are limits to your panic attack. They can only be so big or so strong and as long as you "swim" the right way, by telling yourself the truth and using positive thought replacement, you will make it through.
And of course, just as riptides are more likely to happen during rough surf or during rough winds and weather, anxiety and panic can happen during the rough "storms" in your life. These are times of prolonged stress caused by things such as sickness, death of a loved one, divorce, etc, etc.
During times if great stress and anxiety, it's important to take good care of yourself. Stress management is a must during these times. Remember, being healthy is your responsibility.
So next time you are facing panic, think of it as a riptide. Remember that there are things you can do to make things easier on yourself. Each time you do them, you are teaching yourself not to fear your feelings and you are building confidence in yourself for the next time. And more importantly, remind yourself that as distressing as it feels, you won't drown!