You can take some of the terror out of panic attacks by using self help strategies. The following steps help to normalize the anxiety and can really help lessen a panic attack, both in length and intensity.
1. Acknowledge your feelings. If something is bothering you and you feel anxious, give yourself permission to own the feeling. It is healthy to acknowledge how you really feel rather than trying to stuff it or deny it is happening.
Here is an example of a healthy response to anxious feelings: “Of course I feel anxious about this road trip, because I haven’t done it in awhile. It’s normal to have some anxiety.”
Unhealthy responses would be either burying the anxiety and backing down altogether, or going on the road trip stuffing the anxiety. The former will make you feel defeated and depressed, while the latter will increase the likelihood of panic attacks because what you resist persists.
2. Admit that it is Anxiety. Beyond acknowledging your feelings, admit that what you feel is anxiety. Accept that the feelings you are having in your body and your thoughts are anxiety. A lot of suffers have a hard time with this. They think if they admit they have anxiety, it is an admission of weakness. It’s not. It is an acceptance of reality. These symptoms only mean that something is bothering you. Do not let these feelings scare you. This is key. Once you accept and acknowledge the anxiety, you can actually do something about it to help yourself.
3. Make sure you’re breathing correctly. One of the first things anxious people do when they start to get anxiety symptoms is they breathe shallowly and rapidly. And we do this without even thinking. Instead, focus on trying to do diaphragmatic breathing. This will help correct the oxygen- carbon dioxide imbalance and make you feel better. By focusing on your breath, you can also help slow it down. This will also help you feel less anxious.
4. Do not add any additional “second fear” to the first. First fear is the normal fear response to a stressful or scary situation. It is the normal “reflex” we have to fear. It is that feeling you get when you realize you have to do something that makes you nervous. Let’s stay with the road trip example for this.
Anxious folk quickly add more fear (second fear) to the first, which is why we feel the 2 fears almost at once. This is all the “Oh my gosh, here it comes!…” “Oh, Sh#t, not again!…” “What if I lose control of the car?..” feelings we get as we start to have a panic attack.
Self help for panic attacks comes by reducing fears to their normal intensity (normalizing anxiety). So, you need to recognize the first fear (“Damn road trip! I haven’t had to one in awhile”) and do your very best not to add any additional second fear to it, lest you go into panic attack mode.
Once you can identify 2nd fear, you won’t believe how you’ve been torturing yourself by adding this to your 1st fear without even realizing it.
5. Move it! Get moving and do something to get rid of some of this anxiety induced stimulation. You are like a racehorse in the starting gate only the gate won’t open. So don’t just sit there- open the gate: vacuum, walk outside, hit the treadmill, do all your hand washing. When you do something productive with all the excess energy you have you will start to feel better. Plus you will give yourself something to focus on besides the upcoming road trip.
6. Wobble thru it. Do whatever it is you need to do while having the anxiety symptoms. Go on the road trip. Do it afraid. You may feel weird and scared, but eventually the weirdness will die down. Anxiety is fueled by the release of stress hormones like adrenalin. If you go about what you need to do without making a big damn deal about your anxious feelings, they will start to die down. This is because a) adrenalin wears out and b) you are not adding any second fear and escalating the situation.
When you no longer allow your anxiety to scare you, you will have proven to yourself that it can’t hurt you, much less kill you or make you go insane. Using self help for panic attacks techniques such as these put you in a position of power over anxiety. You are your own safe place, your best safe person.
Consistency is key. The more consistent you are with using these anxiety self help strategies, the more you will find that your panic attacks diminish over time. You will have them less, and they won’t last as long as they used to. This will bring you a wonderful feeling of confidence and triumph and it is totally yours for the taking.
Good luck and let me know how it goes for you!
I wish you peace,
Want to know how I’m doing so well after suffering from anxiety and panic attacks for so long? I use all the tips above plus I use Panic Away to stave off panic attacks on the spot. Click on the link to get started today and reclaim your life from fear.