For many people, having a panic disorder can make exercising nearly impossible. Unfortunately, many of the symptoms one feels when exercising are the same as the ones they feel during a panic attack. This can lead to the triggering of a panic attack during exercise in someone with a panic disorder. This is something that I have struggled with for years and still have to keep in control to this day. Exercise is extremely beneficial. It is great not only for physical health, but mental health as well. No one should have to avoid exercise out of fear of it triggering a panic attack. Although I still struggle to keep my panic attacks in control while exercising, I have found many coping mechanisms that work for me and that have made it possible for me to get through a workout on a consistent basis.
Below is a list of things I do before, during, and after exercise to make sure that my panic disorder stays in control. I hope this list helps you find some peace of mind while working out!
- Prepare yourself mentally before you work out.
You should always stretch your body before you work out. It helps your body to prepare for the workout so you don’t cause yourself any injuries. The mind should be prepared the same way. Before you begin to work out, mentally prepare your mind. Do not stress out because a panic attack may happen. Instead, tell yourself that it will happen and that when it does, everything will be okay. It will pass shortly after it begins. Remind yourself that all it will be is a panic attack and that you shouldn’t believe what your mind may make up during it.
This seems so simple, but we often forget how important it is to control our breathing. It is important to control your breathing not only because you are working out, but also because you don’t want to accidentally start hyperventilating. Hyperventilating can cause panic attacks to begin or worsen.
- Don’t stop working out because of your panic attack.
If you are panicking while working out, you don’t want to stop your exercise completely. This will not help you to prevent having panic attacks while working out in the future. Instead, try your best to exercise through the panic attack. If you have to modify your exercise or stop exercising for a few minutes until your symptoms subside, you can start again once you are calm.
- Keep your body moving until you’re calm.
One of the best tips that has helped me is to keep my body in movement after working out until my panic attack has ended. For instance, when I am done running on a treadmill, I will lower the speed down little by little until I am walking slowly and feel calm enough to stop the treadmill and get off the machine.
- Be patient with yourself.
At the end of the day, learning to control a panic attack takes time. Don’t be upset with yourself if you cannot finish a program completely or if you had to slow down or lessen the intensity. As time goes on, you will be able to increase the time and intensity of your workout without having to worry about a panic attack. It all just takes time! Be proud of yourself every time you try!
“It does not matter how slowly you go as long as you do not stop.”