When Worrying Turns into Panic

Dealing with StressA few days ago, I had a panic attack. For those of you who don’t know, a panic attack is a sudden rush of intense fear or discomfort, which reaches a peak within 10 minutes. My peak was not being able to breathe properly and it was especially scary because I didn’t have an inhaler to help me. What was the cause of my attack? It was school: piles of homework, plus two essays and a project to top it all off. I don’t want any readers to go through a situation like this, so here’s my advice on how to combat stress that comes from school.

Try to stay away from the things that cause you stress. No, that doesn’t mean to not do any of your homework, or to skip school. But, if you find that a certain subject makes you clammy, keep this in mind when choosing your courses for the next school year. If your stress is coming from people, then take a break from being around them as much as you can. If it’s friends, then try talking to other people in your class. If it’s family, try talking it out. If it’s a teacher, consider talking to a guidance counselor.

There are also many activities that you can do to reduce stress before it gets out of hand. Regular exercise, meditation, journaling, and/or taking regular breaks (or a nap here and there) are excellent ways to keep your stress levels low. Make sure that you can keep on top of your work along with these activities, though. It’s probably not a good idea to take a two hour long nap if it’s late and you still haven’t started your homework (speaking from experience here).

However, you’re probably going to procrastinate at least once in your life. Maybe you had a bad week and you’ve fallen behind on, well, everything. Your day is overbooked and you don’t have time to do the activities that would normally help you de-stress. In that case, organize what you have to do. Make a list of the tasks and assignments that you have to complete and prioritize them from what’s most important and urgent to what’s least important and are due the latest. Take it one task at a time. Make sure that you take 5-15 minute breaks every hour or so to keep yourself from burning out. Having a healthy snack nearby can also be helpful.

Do your best to avoid all-nighters. If you find that it’s getting past the time you usually go to bed, then you might want to consider calling it a night. Lay out your clothes, shower, and prepare your materials for the next day so that you can arrive to school a bit early. If possible, wake up 10-15 minutes earlier; that way, you might be able to beat the usual morning traffic and have some extra time before your first class in order to do some of the easier assignments due that day.

Remember that if panic attacks persist, they can take a toll on your physical or mental health. If you’ve had two or more unexpected panic attacks and are worried about future ones, then you should make an appointment with your health care provider. The important thing to remember is that you can learn to lower stress and control your panic attacks.