According to the Mayo Clinic, a panic attack is a sudden episode of intense fear which triggers a severe physical reaction when there is no real danger. The attacks can also be accompanied by feelings of low self-worth or imagining worst-case scenarios.
As with trauma, this simple practice aims to help integrate the rational and emotional hemispheres in the brain. This allows the mind to connect to the body. While my yoga therapy patients have loved the practice and found it very effective, something other than what works for one person may work for another.
It is used by several occupational therapy techniques to address both physical and psychological concerns. This method involves crossing the midline of the body. This technique aims to connect our limbic brain (the more primitive fight, flight, freeze response) with our more rational, logical left hemisphere to reduce anxiety and feel safer. The other components — touch yourself and exhale long — are also shown to reduce stress levels.
You can either sit or lay down to begin. You can either sit or lie down to start. Cross your wrists, stroke your outside legs as far as possible, and then move up your inside legs three or four more times. Repeat this three or four times, stroking up your inside leg and down your outside. Repeat the same procedure, but switch which wrist is on top. Pause and see if you feel less “up in the head” and more rooted and steady.
Some clients use this technique to reduce stress and panic while parked in their cars or taking a short break between meetings. You can also tap your legs down and up. Remembering to exhale profoundly is the key to stopping panic!