Panic Attacks: Can’t live with them, would love to live without them!

I haven’t told you all yet, but I go to LA in 4 weeks for the fun tourist/Disneyland/Universal experience. I am beyond excited. My friends and I had decided to try for tickets to see an episode of the Big Bang Theory being filmed. As I am sure you can imagine, the tickets are like gold dust. So I stupidly volunteered to get them for us. So two days ago, there I am sitting at my laptop watching the clock ticking down to sale time. The next 15 minutes unfolds like this…

The clock ticks.

Search for website.

Time getting closer.

Website won’t load.


Sale time gets closer.

Website won’t load.

Try again.

Try again.

Sale time arrives.

Website freezes.

Chest starts to tighten.

Hot flush starts.

Hands start to shake.

Palms become sweaty.

Can’t breathe.

The end result is I am hyperventilating, crying, full blown panic attack.

I know a lot of you reading this will know exactly what it feels like. Like someone pushing down on your chest, stopping you from breathing. Like everything is closing in around you, sucking you in. Like everyone is staring at you.

But you are not alone. Apparently, over 15 million people in the US alone suffer from panic attacks. That is nearly 5% of the whole country. Yet you feel so alone when it is happening. I know, because I feel it too. You want someone to help you, but that feeling is equal to the horrible embarrassment of making a fuss or a fool of yourself.  I never know what to do for the best!

My first panic attack was when I was 18. I was walking to university one morning quickly because I was late. When I got there, I was suitably out of breath but didn’t think much of it because I had practically ran there. I was stressing about being late because it was an important day, we were getting a breakdown of the yearlong project we had to complete. As the morning went on, and the work load piled up, the shortness of breath came back, a pain in my chest started and I went very hot and shaky. I covered my eyes with my hands, trying to block out the world and all the homework that I was expected to do. Luckily, class had halted for a break and the girl I was sitting next to could see I was shaking and struggling to breath and helped to calm me down. She said that I needed to concentrate on taking deep breaths otherwise I was going to pass out. The thought of passing out panicked me more but I knew she was only trying to help 🙂

After I had calmed down, she then explained that she had panic attacks sometimes and she described how it felt, which turned out to be exactly what I had been feeling that morning. I was freaking out about starting university, the jump from college to university was a lot harder than I had anticipated, and then the worry of being late and the seemingly impossible task of completing this project had just tipped me over the edge.

Fast forward to 27 year old me and I still get stressed out to the max, but I don’t have panic attacks anywhere near as often. I feel equipped to share with you a very rough guide of how to cope with panic attacks.  Please don’t take this as law, or as a substitute for proper medical advice, I am no doctor, just a friend who wants to help!

Step 1: Know your signs.

Make a mental note of what happens to you when a panic attack is starting. It may be a pain somewhere, or a hot flush, or shortness of breath. If you know what signs to look for, you can learn to stop the panic attack in its early stages.

Step 2: Come out of the situation.

You should probably try and remove yourself from the situation that is stressing you. I know this may not always possible but finding somewhere quiet and in the fresh air will instantly make you feel calmer.

Step 3: Concentrate on your breathing.

There is conflicting information out there about how to do this, some say breathe into a paper bag, some say don’t, some say breathe through your nose, some say in through your mouth. Remembering that I am not a doctor, I can only say what works for me:

I sit down, and breathe in through my nose while counting to 5, and then breathe out through my mouth while counting to five. If I am really struggling, I will start by counting to 3, then 4, then 5. Once I am in control of my breathing (this sometimes takes a while), I will breathe in for 5 counts and then hold my breath for 3 counts, then breathe out for 5 counts. This helps to slow your heart rate down.

Step 4: Remember that YOU ARE IN CONTROL

It is in capitals because it is important! Easier said than done I know, but you need to tell yourself that you are in control of your life, your body, and your situation. The panic attack is your mind saying, ‘Stop overloading me, I can’t cope!’ so you need to tell yourself that you can. You are calm, you are relaxed, you are in control. Chant it over and over to yourself. Say it loud and say it proud. You control the panic attack, it doesn’t control you. This is the hardest thing to do, because you are having to find strength within yourself when you are at your weakest, but it needs to be done. You are in control, and don’t ever forget that. You can do this.

Step 5: Tell someone.

The hardest part of coping with panic attacks is coping on your own. Find someone you trust, be it a parent, a teacher, a best friend, a librarian or an astronaut, whoever, just someone you can talk to about it. Tell them that you are having panic attacks and what happens to you when you get them. Tell them what signs they need to look out for and how you want them to help you when it is happening.

For example, telling your friend that when you grip her arm, it is code for ‘get me the hell out of here!’ My friend always told me to ask to be excused and go to the toilet if class was stressing me out. I didn’t particularly like the thought of sitting in a confined space when I was freaking out, so I would sneak out to a bench at the front of the building and sit there for a few minutes.

It would really be best to share how you feel with an adult. There is lots of info about panic attacks online that you both can read up on. There are charities whose aim is to distribute helpful advice for people who have panic attacks. I tell my mum everything, and this was no different. Doctors also have some good advice about easing panic attacks, both medical and psychological. Meditation CDs are a good one. I was sceptical at first but after many listens to this CD (bought off Amazon) I found that I could relax myself by remembering what the CD said, which was so helpful when I was out and about and wasn’t able to sit and listen to it. This is the one I bought but there are loads out there to try. Youtube is a good place to have a listen too.


In recent weeks, I have also started seeing a Hypnotherapist about my panic attacks. I met Julie at a business networking session and she talked so passionately about how hypnotherapy could help a variety of problems, I thought I would give it a go. I struggle with flying so going to America is going to be an issue so I decided to give hypnotherapy a go. I cannot tell you how much it has changed my life. With Julie’s help, I have confronted the issues that lead me to having panic attacks, and some issues that I didn’t realise I was still clinging on to. Julie has taught me some techniques to try when I can feel a panic attack coming on and some words to say to myself to keep me calm. The test will definitely be in a few weeks when I step on to that aeroplane and I will report back when I return!

I really hope that you find this post useful. Like I say, I am no medical professional, so I can only offer you what I have found helpful. If you are suffering with them at the moment, this does not mean you will have them for your whole life. If you have found any more techniques that you think panic attack suffers should know then leave them in the comments. How do you cope with your panic attacks? What strategies do find most effective? The more we talk about it, the more we can help overcome them.

And for those of you wondering, I got the Big Bang filming tickets in the end!

Sarah xx


Happy Singles Day!!

Oh excellent. It is that time of year again. The 14th of February. Valentine’s Day.

I, like some of you reading this, am single. Nowadays, I am happily single but during my teenage years, I used to get really down about it. Especially when all my friends had boyfriends and I didn’t (This may have been my own fault, I talked to boys about football which always seemed to lead to being friend zoned!). So I often wanted to spend Valentine’s Day with a duvet pulled over my head, being comforted by Mr Ben and Mr Jerry. However, fear not my single friends because this year I have put together the ultimate kit for celebrating Singles day!


I guess a lot of these items are to pamper and spoil myself. Valentine’s Day is a day to be shown how loved you are so why can’t you show yourself how much you love you? Treating and looking after yourself is so important and people don’t do it enough.

In past years, I have got together with my other single friends to celebrate Singles Day and we have had such a laugh together, but this is fun on your own too. This plan also means you can spend the day indoors, meaning you don’t have to walk around seeing couples holding hands and being lovey dovey, and you can stay in your comfy jogging pants without being judged so win win!!

I think I will start the celebrations by doing a face pack. I love face packs, especially ones that smell good enough to eat! The ones you peel off when they are dry are the most fun, mostly because it makes me feel like I am starring in my very own episode of Doctor Who 🙂 My favourite ones are by Montagne Jeunesse. They do all sorts of flavours and cover a range of different skin types, meaning you can pick one that is just right for you. They smell amazing but more importantly, leave your skin feeling smooth and clear. Word of warning: Face packs are difficult to do in groups. Especially when your friends are as funny as mine!


I am not a girlie girl at all but I do love painting my nails so that is what I will do next. My favourite brands are Barry M and Avon, and if I am treating myself to something a little more expensive, I always choose OPI or Ciate. In my opinion, brighter is always better! My favourite style at the moment is hot pink with a black mosaic effect over the top (Mine is from Avon).


Once my nails are dry, I will then start to make my way through my DVD collection. On a day celebrating being single, I will probably start with laugh out loud comedies such as the Miranda series (such fun!) or John Tucker Must Die, where girls get their own back on their school Romeo. Perfect for Singles Day. Last but not least I will watch Pitch Perfect because the moral of the story is that friendship conquers all. And who doesn’t love a sing-a-long?!


The eagle eyed amongst you will have spotted the pizza takeaway menu on the table. That is because I intend to order in pizza. A big one. With a stuffed crust and multiple toppings. A pizza that I can choose exactly what toppings I want without having to share it with anyone. I would honestly rather be singe than have to share my pizza without a fussy eater (Yes I like pineapple on my pizza, get over it!). Whoever invented the half and half pizza must have saved a million relationships. Obviously there are many different companies available but for me, Pizza Hut is the King of Pizzas. And their cookie dough pudding is amazing!

And last but not least, no pampering session would be complete without some sort of chocolatey treat! I bought the little love heart chocolates from Marks and Spencer because they are super cute and easy to share. I also thought they would be the ideal size to dip in my one true love,  Nutella. If I could, I would put Nutella on everything…ice cream, scones, digestive biscuits…weird, I know!

So there you have it. My guide to celebrating Singles Day and surviving Valentine’s Day as a singleton. I hope you enjoy whatever your plans have. Send me a picture of your Singles Day celebrations to my Twitter page: @notfallingover or to my Facebook page: Positive Thinking and Not Falling Over. Can’t wait to see them!

There is a saying that states: How can anyone be expected to love you when you do not love yourself. And it is true, learning to love yourself is one the hardest, but the best thing you will ever do, especially if you are over critical of yourself as I am. It is really worth doing things like this to make you take the time to look after yourself. Remind yourself that you are beautiful and worth unconditional love.


Sarah x

Please note: I am not endorsed by any of the companies or brands mentions. Those mentioned above are just my humble opinion, other brands are available.


Your life, Your vision

January is well known for being the month of setting resolutions, turning your life around, creating the ‘new you’.

From being little I knew how your life was supposed to be. You were expected to go to school, then to college, then to University, then get a job, then… what? I left University and was very lucky to walk into a full time job pretty much the next day. But then two years later, I woke up one morning and thought…’What am I supposed to do now?’ Like, is this it? Is this what my life is going to be like until I am ready for the grave?

It is said by pretty much every adult that the aim of school is to prepare you for life. My teachers made it very clear to me that only good exam results would do and my life would be over if I did not achieve them. I know now that teachers say this to scare the students who don’t work hard enough into action, but it had the opposite effect. It scared all of us hard working students into blind panic.

School had done very well preparing me for getting into college, how to pick my A Levels, how to handle interviews but they never prepared me for what happens after you have done all that. Do you get a job and then just wait until you are old enough to retire?  When do you get to do the fun stuff? Like travelling or go to a festival or learn how to make the perfect chocolate cupcakes?

There is a very famous story about John Lennon, the Beatles legend. John was at school one day and his teacher asked him what he wanted to be when he was older. John replied: ‘I want to be happy.’ The teacher laughed and said he had misunderstood the question. John told him that he misunderstood life.

John Lennon was right. What is the point of doing a job you hate, spending time with people who bring you down or wasting the days you have until you die?

I have never liked the idea of having a Bucket List. I thought about writing one but whenever I tried, it made me feel like I was trying to beat the clock. I always felt more focused on trying to get through the list before I kicked said ‘bucket’, rather than actually enjoying each once-in-a-lifetime activity, which kind of defeated the point of doing it!

But one day I came across something that I wish I had seen when I was about 14, when I was making my GCSE choices. I needed someone to tell me that if I made a wrong decision, my life would not be over! That something was a Vision Board. A picture plan, if you like, for what I want my life to look like. The idea is simple, you make a college of things you want to do in your life, things you want to achieve, skills you want to have, places you want to see. Anything and everything that would make your life complete. This is mine, it lives on my wall, right by my desk where I can see it every day:


I want to be a children’s author, I want to own a house that is big enough for my relatives to stay in (I have a lot of family overseas), I want to be in a loving marriage, I want to have clear spot-less skin (that drama will be a whole other blog post!), I want to be involved with my favourite sports team, I want to be involved with my favourite charity.

How I am going to achieve all this is not clear at the moment, but that is not a problem. A vision board is a plan, not the finished product. Once you have made a board, it does not mean it is set in stone. I am always changing things on mine as more ideas come to me or I think to myself: ‘Actually, that is not important to me anymore.’ Making the vision board makes you focus on all the positive things you want to experience in your life, rather than worrying about the things that in the end, won’t actually matter.

The only golden rule for making the vision board is you must write the labels on it in the present tense: I am a successful author, I have clear skin, I have a nice car. Talking in the present tense will bring the experience to you. Saying statements like ‘I would like…’ or ‘In the future…’ keeps pushing it further and further away from you, meaning you never catch it. Sometimes I look at my vision board and say some of the notes I have written on there, to remind myself of where I am heading in my life, especially when I am having a rough day. As long as I have my plan, my vision, then I know which direction I am heading in.

I know a lot of the time during your teenage years, you can’t see past school, or past those girls who are making your life hell, or that feeling that you don’t fit in and you would rather be invisible, but this is the perfect time to start a vision board. Those days will end. You can turn those bad feelings into something positive and start deciding how you would like your life to be. You are in control of what you want your life to be like and don’t let anyone tell you otherwise.

I am not for one minute saying do not try and get the best exam results you can. Obviously, getting good exam results does open doors for you. By law, you have to go to school so you may as well put your all into getting the best exam results you can to make the time spent there worthwhile. And yes you have to get a job so you can earn money to live off, money is not just going to fall out of the sky and land in your hand. Unless a real money tree has been discovered since I started writing this post… But what about all the things that give you a warm fuzzy feeling inside? Start planning those extra things that will make you happy. Because at the end of the day, that is the most important thing. That you are happy. 

So get planning!

Start making your vision.

And don’t forget to send me a picture when it is finished, either through the Facebook page: Positive Thinking and Not Falling Over or via Twitter: @notfallingover.

Sarah x

New Year, New Resolutions

Ah it is January again! Time to make some plans for the upcoming year.

The theme of 2018 for me is going to be looking after myself more. I am going to make time to do the things I love the most, or things that I never quite have time for.

My first new year’s resolution is going to be to read more. There is nothing more inviting when life around you is stressful than to lose yourself in a good book. Immerse yourself in another world. Yet I always say: ‘I don’t have time to read a book.’ My favourite author at the moment is Agatha Christie, the Queen of crime herself. And, true to my word, I have already finished one of her early novels, which I started over Christmas. It was brilliant and I even found that reading a little before I went to bed made me fall asleep quicker. It gave me something else to think about instead of keeping myself up worrying about other things. I think I am on to a winner!

My second new year’s resolution is to make time to look after my wellbeing a bit more. I am not the average girly-girl, but I do enjoying having my nails done and I have a little smile to myself every time I catch a glimpse of the beautiful colours for weeks afterwards, so I am going to treat myself to more manicures this year. It might seem like a bit of an unnecessary expense but the gel varnish lasts for 4 weeks and I have something to show for it, rather than spending that much on alcohol or food or something that is consumed immediately. Besides, I always feel a bit more confident when I have nice nails!

I would also like to try having a massage, I mean, what could be more relaxing? Well, this could prove a little difficult as I have a bit of a phobia where this is concerned. I am not very keen on the thought of someone I don’t know touching me. You can see why a massage may not be as relaxing as first thought! Is this a normal fear? Anyone else understand me? So I was thinking of starting with something small, like Reflexology. I read online that it has all of the relaxing properties of a massage and stimulating certain pressure points on your feet connect to other parts of the body, meaning the whole body benefits. And there is meditation music and nice smelling oils involved. I can hear the whale calls already! I will let you know how that one goes.

And last but not least, my third new year’s resolution is to put more time, focus and energy into this blog. I can get very easily distracted by…well…anything and when I look up again it is already Monday and another week has passed me by *sigh* so I hereby vow to make this blog a priority!

I would love to hear what your new year’s resolutions are this year. What I love most about resolutions is how personal they are to everyone. Your resolution might sound silly or insignificant to someone else, but to you, it is the reason 2018 is going to stand out!

Sarah x

Picture credit:

My first blog post…

Hi everyone,

Welcome to my new blog, Positive Thinking …and not falling over…

My name is Sarah, I am 27 years young from Manchester, UK. I am a music fan, sports fan, a photographer, a crafter and a writer.

I have started this blog to try and help those of you out there who are finding life difficult. When I was 15, I felt like there was no one to reach out to, to help me navigate the trails of life, the difficulties of growing up, the dramas of having to make decisions about further education when I couldn’t even decide what to have for breakfast without a minor meltdown. Or falling over. I did a lot of that while growing up. Usually in front of the whole class, or in front of a boy I liked. Who am I kidding? I still do a lot of that now. So here I am, 10+ years later, wanting to pass on what I have learnt about life.

People freak out when you mention the phrase ‘self-help’. They imagine you are going to trick them into speaking to a psychiatrist, who will inevitably tell you that your problems are all deep seated from that day that kid in nursery ate all the fruit at snack time before you had a chance to sit down and now you have an inferiority complex. (!) But I see the phrase ‘self-help’ as exactly what it is, helping yourself. Taking steps, and a little advice, to make life a little bit easier for yourself, whether it be your school work, avoiding your friendship group arguments or learning to love yourself when people around you are saying hurtful things. I would like to use this blog to share with you all the teachings that have helped me.

Don’t get me wrong, life is hard work! But if we can have a giggle about it, and a chat about things along the way, then hopefully it will make it a bit more manageable.

I look forward to the road ahead with you all.

I have never written a blog before, so I have no idea what I am doing so bear with me! But the Facebook, Twitter and Instagram pages are all up and running so feel free to give them a follow, links are at the top of the page, under a lovely picture of me! Share these posts with your friends and together we will make a little community, And, who knows, maybe we won’t fall over as much! One can hope anyway 🙂

Sarah x