How to Recognize Feelings of Anxiety and Panic

Understanding what anxiety and panic feel like when you’ve never experienced either can be a difficult task. The COVID-19 threat is shrouded in uncertainty, from global economic concerns to worries about your physical health and the health of those you love, people are experiencing new, and compounding types of stress; and people with an existing panic and anxiety condition, may find it intensified.

It’s important to be kind to yourself right now because there is no “right” way to respond to this. This is a troubling time for all of us, and it’s absolutely okay for you to feel things that you may not understand. You are doing the best you can in an overwhelming circumstance.

How Do You Know If You Are Experiencing Anxiety?

  • You can’t think about anything else other than coronavirus or the COVID-19 pandemic
  • You’re experiencing feelings of hopeless or anger about the situation
  • You have a difficult time going to work or being in public spaces
  • You have difficulty sleeping
  • You’re experiencing physical symptoms like frequent headaches, an upset stomach or diarrhea

Many people have never experienced anxiety, nor have they ever encountered a pandemic before, and it’s okay if you need help. If you need support, you can reach out to one of our experienced, qualified counsellors with our Thrive Counselling Program for telephone and online support. Sessions are offered for 60 minutes and no-cost.

How Do You Know If You Are Experiencing A Panic Attack? 

Not all panic attacks have the same symptoms and can feel different for everyone. It is possible, and common to feel some, but not all symptoms.

Common Symptoms Include:

  • Rapid Heart Rate
  • Chest Pain
  • Nausea
  • Dizziness
  • Spiraling negative thoughts: including feeling like you’re having a heart attack.

Other Symptoms Can Include:

  • Sweating
  • Shaking or trembling
  • Derealization
  • Depersonalization
  • Abdominal or digestive issues such as diarrhea or vomiting
  • Shortness of breath
  • Nervousness

How to Cope While Experiencing a Panic Attack

Practice Deep Breathing

Controlling your breathing is the most important way to begin to minimize a panic attack, fast. Take a slow breath in through your nose, hold it for a couple of seconds, and then exhale and repeat. Make sure you pause for about three seconds between each breath to avoid hyperventilating.

Relax Your Muscles

Begin relaxing your body by focusing on one muscle group at a time. Curl your toes on both feet and then, release the tension. Pay attention to each individual muscle as you tense and relax it. It also helps if you do your deep breathing during this exercise.

Lean into it

By recognizing that you’re having a panic attack and not a heart attack, you can remind yourself that this is temporary, it will pass, and that you’re OK.

Drink a Glass of Water

When you let the cool water slide down your throat it can refocus your brain and bring you out of your panic attack, quicker.


If you are having panic attacks more than once a month, you should speak with a qualified professional about it. Reach out for help by calling 306-757-6675.



This blog post was created as part of our response to the Covid-19 pandemic. For more information about our response, including changes to our service delivery and other resources, please visit: