What Are 5 Physical Hacks to Halt a Panic Attack?

If you’ve ever experienced a panic attack, you know how terrible things can get. You feel like the world is closing in around you, breathing becomes difficult, and you may experience chest pain. You may even begin to believe that you are dying. As the panic builds on itself, you become more and more uneasy. Panic attacks are truly horrific, and the extent of the psychological trauma that they cause cannot be overstated.

The intensity of feelings during a panic attack is nearly impossible to contain in words. For anyone with a panic disorder, the key is prevention. Knowing what triggers the attacks and then either avoiding the stimuli or, alternatively, learning how to fight the feelings through cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) or other means is crucial. However, when prevention fails and an attack begins, your focus should be on reducing the duration and intensity of the attack. In this guide, we’ll discuss physical hacks to halt a panic attack before it spirals out of control.

Breathing Techniques

If you ask anyone with a panic disorder who has tried a proven breathing technique to stop a panic attack, they will likely tell you that it helps immensely. Although there is no immediate method to halt a panic attack, controlled breathing techniques can change your physiology to stop the cascading hormonal and neurotransmitter activity that is driving the attack. Several techniques, some ancient and some new, can utilize the power of the breath to stop panic and induce calm.

Cold Showers

Cold showers are shown to stimulate “feel-good’ neurotransmitter activity, specifically norepinephrine, that soothes the mind, eventually causing it to calm. Additionally, regular cold showers are proven to alleviate chronic anxiety and depression over the long term, substantially reducing the likelihood of an attack in the first place.

Focus Using Meditation

The physiological and psychological origins are closely linked with an out-of-control, overactive nervous system that bombards the mind with a dizzying array of input at once. This is why drinking caffeine and consuming other stimulants can often lead to panic attacks. Calm the mind through the application of mediation into your daily routine, or when a panic attack starts. Sitting still and focusing on a single object, in turn driving out obtrusive, unwanted thoughts, can provide a calming effect during an attack.


This is a tricky method for stopping panic attacks because, sometimes, the hyperventilation that often accompanies a panic attack can make sustained cardiovascular activity difficult. If possible, engage in some light workout like a run when panic begins to set it. The release of endorphins, also called “feel-good” hormones, can exert calming action on the nervous system.

Practice Positive Self-Talk

Again, the horrific feelings of impending doom, and even of death, is impossible to convey through words. But people with panic disorders understand through firsthand experience how overwhelming the worst panic attacks can be. One of the most helpful ways to overcome panic attacks is through positive self-talk. Panic attacks build on themselves by instilling, as their name suggests, panic in the person experiencing them.

As a result, fight-or-flight hormones like adrenaline flood the nervous system as the body attempts to fight off the perceived threat. Through hard experience, you will come to learn that, although panic attacks feel like the beginning stages of death, they are very rarely actually dangerous to your health. You will, over the course of a few minutes or more, recover your sanity and sense of well-being. Throughout the course of an attack, by consistently reminding yourself, no matter how difficult, that this is only temporary, you begin to cognitively influence the underlying nervous system response that is directing the attack to relax.

Eventually, this results in fewer and less severe attacks. Again, many of these physical hacks are easier said than done – mastering them takes patience and trial and error. Ultimately, when you begin to regain control over your mind and body, you will become a stronger, more willful person. If there is any benefit to the horror of panic attacks, it is to create stronger people more confident in their abilities to weather any storm. Implement these strategies to harden yourself against panic attacks. You will be surprised at your capacity to fight them. Call us at 844-639-8371.

Scroll to Top