Inspiration – How to Shut Down a Panic Attack

While researching ways to stop panic attacks, I came across a nice info-graphic that claims to help you shut down your panic attacks by using the AWARE method.

The AWARE Method allows you to regain control when a panic attack begins. Each letter of AWARE signifies a step in the process to help stop the panic attack.

A – Accept the anxiety. Fighting against it or getting frustrated that it’s happening will only make it worse.

W – Wait. Take a few moments or a minute to calm down, regain your thoughts and ability to concentrate and think.

A – Action. Work on settling and regulating your breathing from your stomach or your diaphragm.

R – Repeat. Repeat the steps given above until you feel better and the panic attack has stopped.

E – End. Remind yourself that panic attacks are only temporary, and they will always end.

Having a look at different ways to reduce and stop a panic attack is vital for me at this stage as I need to learn which methods are the most commonly used and the most effective. I liked this method as it was short and easy to remember – this is important during panic attacks as your mind is clouded with negative thoughts so you want something that is easy to remember.


App Definition Statement & Users

Following on from the last post, I began to look at the process of creating an app.

The first step is an App Definition Statement. The statement is a clear, concise definition of the app, who it’s for and what it’s purpose is. To create the statement, I listed the proposed features and users for my app.


  • A step-by-step process to help reduce panic and anxiety attacks
  • Exercises that help cope with anxious or panicky feelings.

(At this stage, I am unsure whether to focus on one sole feature, and a few smaller ones or to have a bunch of different features)


  • College students, aged 17/18+
  • College students who experience anxiety and panic attacks

Statement Examples

#1 “A tool that helps students cope with and lessen panic attacks”

#2 “A panic attack relief tool for students who are suffering with mental health problems”

Next, I began to look deeper into the Users by creating User Personas and User Scenarios.

User Personas

User #1

Who: Female who suffers badly with panic attacks on a weekly basis

Frustrations: No resources she has that will help her

Not many people know how to calm people down when they are suffering with panic attacks

Goals: Be able to cope with panic attacks easier and quicker

Have helpful resources that are accessible anywhere


User #2

Who: Male who suffers with panic attacks occasionally

Frustrations: Suffers with panic attacks due to certain things, e.g. giving a speech

Doesn’t know how to lessen them or cope with them and how to calm himself down

Goals: Learn how to fight against the panic attacks

Figure out ways to calm himself down


User #3

Who: Male who has bad anxiety when stressed and under pressure

Frustrations: Doesn’t have time to spend 30 mins – 1 hour on exercises to help reduce anxiety every time he feels anxious

Nothing to help when he’s out and about and feeling anxious

Goals: Find a quick and easy way to help reduce his anxiety that he can use anywhere at any time

User Scenarios

User Scenario #1

Hazel is in her first year of college at UCD. She has suffered with panic attacks for years, and the new experience of starting college has worsened them. She feels there aren’t enough resources available, especially for dealing with panic attacks, and her friends aren’t really sure how to help her when she starts to have one. Using the app will help her cope with panic attacks through the step by step process.

User Scenario #2

Luke is a third year student at NUI Maynooth. He suffers from panic attacks from time to time, especially when certain things trigger them, e.g. giving a speech in front of people. He is unsure how to cope and how to stop the triggers from giving him panic attacks. Using the exercises on the app before the triggers could help Luke prevent the attacks from happening and calm him down.

User Scenario #3

Derek is in his final year at ITB. The stress and pressure of final year has made him more anxious than usual. He doesn’t have the time to spend 30 mins – 1 hour doing exercises that will help him calm down and reduce his anxious feelings. He also feels there is nothing he can do to help these feelings when he’s out and about. Using the app is a quick and easy way for Derek to calm down and that he can access from any location at any time.

Time to start prototyping

At our previous supervisor session, we were told that from now on we have to bring stuff with us to each session – kind of like a “show and tell” session.

The things we need to bring should all build up and lead to the prototype that we have to create and present in January – whether it be style, design, wireframes, mockups, fonts, colours, etc.

The way I want to tackle this with my app is to follow the same process we followed in the App Design & Development module. The process we used was:

Firstly, we created an App Statement by listing the features and users we want for the app. After we had defined these, we could then go on to create the statement by keeping the features and users in mind.

Next, we focus on the users, because without them, our app isn’t going to be successful. So we create user personas, user scenarios and then user experience maps. It’s important to engage users in each step of the process as their input is beneficial and may lead us to change different aspects of the app based on their needs.

After that, we start on design – flowcharts, design patterns, wireframing and prototyping. I will start these next week.

Supervisor Session #6

Today we had our sixth supervisor session, where we had to present our 5 favourite/best Inspirations from the Inspiration phase.

The 5 I chose to speak about were Pacifica, SAM, Happier, TED Talk on Meditation and Reducing Anxiety. The reason I chose these was because I felt they were the best projects I had looked at – I had gained the most insight from these and these were the most inspiring to me.

After I had finished speaking, Hugh and Daniel asked me questions like what else I had looked at that wasn’t related to mental health, and they also asked me what was unique about my own project – I said the steps to help a panic attack would be a unique feature.

After we had all presented, Hugh and Daniel had some feedback:

  • We need to work on our presentation skills and we need to be more prepared
  • Inspirations shouldn’t always focus solely on your theme – look outside of this
  • Having an original idea is important
  • When speaking about an inspiration, don’t just say I like it – you have to validate why you like it and why you think it’s good
  • We should continue to find inspiring stuff, and we were advised to spend an hour a week looking for inspiration
  • From now on, we have to bring something to the session that will work towards our prototypes – whether that be sketches, colours, styles, design etc. If you don’t have something to show, you won’t get talked to. It’s all about progression

I found the Inspiration Phase really enjoyable, insightful and helpful. I learned a lot of new things and I feel a lot more informed about both my theme and my overall project. I have to admit I wasn’t as prepared for my presentation as I should’ve been (and usually am) so next time I will make sure I am. I also will take into consideration looking outside my theme when I look for more inspiring projects.

Inspiration – Addressing the Mental Health Needs of Third Level Students

In order to learn more statistics about mental health in students in Ireland, as well as what they should do  help their mental health problems, I read an article written by John Broderick, chairman of the Irish Association of University & College Counsellors (IAUCC), called Addressing the Mental Health Needs of Third Level Students.

The article speaks about a number of various things, such as:

How college life can negatively affect our lives by not being able to cope with time management, studies, health, and finances, as well as the transition to being independent, more responsible, new relationships and more. The student population is more vulnerable than others and student progress can be easily disrupted by mental health problems, as well as alcohol and drug misuses.

Statistics about mental health in young people- since 2006/2007, anxiety disorders have increased from 19-32%, depression from 9-24%, relationship issues from 11-24% and academic issues from 19-29%. A survey conducted of 8,053 college students between 17-25 showed 61% were engaged in problem drinking, 43% have considered at some point that life wasn’t worth living, 40% suffering from depression, 38% suffering from anxiety, 21% have self-harmed deliberately and 7% have attempted suicide.

Young people will have a lower risk of mental health problems and higher levels of optimism, self esteem and life satisfaction if they have even just one good adult they can talk to about their problems. 62% of the students surveyed said they would talk to someone if they had a problem (males are less likely to do this than females).

Counselling is very effective as it helps reduce levels of depression, anxiety and more in students who attend 4 or 5 sessions. Studies show that 75% of students said counselling helped them stay in college, as well as improve their academic achievements and their overall college life.

This article is mostly based on how counselling in colleges is really effective in helping students. Although this article doesn’t directly relate to my own project, I felt it’s still necessary for me to be informed of the facts about mental health in college students, and the alarming statistics presented in this article show that there are a lot of students suffering with mental health problems, especially anxiety and depression. My aim is to make this app as effective as it can be to help all the students who are suffering with various mental health problems.

Inspiration – Starting the Conversation

I found a Guidebook about college and mental health called Starting the Conversation, crated by NAMI – the National Alliance on Mental Illness. The guide is written for both students and parents to provide them with important information about mental health in college.


The guidebook is 28 pages long, and covers topics such as:


  • Why start a conversation about Mental Health?
    • The guide was created to start the conversation about mental health. These conversations allow you to be prepared for the unexpected- what to do if you develop a condition, or if it worsens. The more you learn, the better equipped you’ll be.


  • Navigating College
    • This section speaks about stressors that can affect your mental health,  building connections, and managing stress.

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  • Starting Your Conversation
    • Who to include in the conversation and different types of conversation starters for students and parents

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  • Mental Health conditions are common
    • Statistics are given (U.S. statistics) about mental health and mental health conditions in college students


  • Common signs of a Mental Health condition
    • Here they mention 10 common signs of a mental health condition, such as feeling sad/withdrawn for more than two weeks, extreme difficulty in concentrating or staying still, seeing, hearing or believing things that are not real and more.


  • Mental Health care on campus
    • Listed are different campus resources for mental health, such as getting in contact with the campus counselling or the health centre


The guide also talks about alcohol and drug use and suicide help and resources.

I believe that guidebooks like these are essential for students who are already in college or just at the beginning of their college journey. I’ve never seen any of these kind of books given out to students in college and I think something like this should be implemented as they have a lot of important information. As well as having important information, it’s presented in a way that isn’t too text heavy and is easy to read as well as being visually appealing. I learned new things from this guidebook also, and I can consider this type of information and style in my own project.





Inspiration – Mindfulness Practice on Reducing Anxiety

Researching ways on how to reduce anxiety & anxiety/panic attacks, I found a blog post on a counseling website, Sharon Martin Counselling. The post is A Strategy to Reducing Anxiety.

The post explains what anxiety is, the symptoms, how it’s treated and how you can reduce your anxiety at home.

Then they give different examples of reducing your anxiety at home:

  1. Rate your anxiety from 1-10
  2. Sit up straight, place your feet on the ground and relax your shoulders
  3. Breathe slow and deeply
  4. Count how many windows are in the room
  5. Count how many electrical sockets you see
  6. How does the chair you’re sitting on feel like – is it comfy, soft, smooth?
  7. What colour are the trousers & shoes you’re wearing?
  8. What material is the floor made from – smooth, bumpy, dirty, or clean?
  9. What can you hear?
  10. Name your favourite tv shows
  11. Name all the shapes you can think of
  12. Rate your anxiety again – if it’s 5 or over, repeat


The post also gives a video that takes you through both a mental (like the examples above), physical and soothing grounding to help reduce anxiousness and calm you down.

I feel this post has a lot of information needed about anxiety. It not only tells you what it is, the symptoms, etc but it also gives you different ways to help reduce your anxiety. These would be very helpful when experiencing an anxiety or panic attack, and will be useful for me for my app. I like the way they also included a quick 10 minute video that will help calm you down too.