Last week, a dear friend mentioned that she had experienced her first panic attack.

After many stressful episodes over the last few months, it hit her all of a sudden – she became restless, worried, short of breath and irritable, and her heart was beating rapidly.

Fear took over momentarily and thinking it was something serious, she pulled out the oximeter to check her oxygen saturation levels.

The reading was normal, but she was not convinced.

Not knowing what to do, she felt like she was going crazy and tried calming herself with some breathing exercises, but nothing worked – she just couldn’t sit still.

Eventually, as time passed, her symptoms gradually disappeared, but the episode left her shaken, disoriented and exhausted.

In a situation like hers, is there anything you can do to calm your mind?

A lot of healthcare professionals will tell you to do some deep breathing exercises, but the reality (and from my experience) is that during a panic or anxiety attack, this will not help.

When you are having an attack, you need to move and ride it out; you cannot just sit down and take deep, slow breaths or meditate – this will only worsen your state.

But moving doesn’t mean running or jumping either.

What you can do is prance up and down, take a walk or vigorously shake your limbs.

More importantly, exhale though the mouth as you do this.

If you have a loved one or friend nearby, ask them to talk to you for reassurance that the moment will pass – it will make you feel better immediately.

One acquaintance told me she’d get a panic attack every time she is on a plane that is about to take off.

So, before the plane leaves the ground, she will ask the person sitting next to her if she can hold his or her hand.

Usually at first, the stranger will give her that “you’ve gone nuts” look, but after seeing her frightened expression, he or she will usually oblige.

Human nature is such that we will help someone in distress who is pleading for help. But with Covid-19 in mind, do remember to …….


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