Surviving a Panic Attack
- Remember that although your feelings and symptoms are very frightening, they are not dangerous or harmful.
- Understand that what you are experiencing is just an exaggeration of your normal bodily reactions to stress; rapid heart rate and breathing, difficulty breathing, sweating, dizziness, tingling in your hands or feet, indigestion or chest discomfort.
- Do not fight your feelings or try to wish them away. The more you are willing to face them, the less intense they will become.
- Do not add to your panic by thinking about what "might" happen. If you find yourself asking "What if?" tell yourself "So what!" ("what if I freeze when I'm in front of the audience?" Say to yourself, "So what! it isn't the end of the world, no one will get hurt and I will figure a way to get through it." Force yourself to think rationally instead of imagining that it will be the worst thing in the world - it isn't.
- Stay in the present. Notice what is really happening to you as opposed to what you think might happen.
- Label your fear level from zero to ten and watch it go up and down. Notice that it does not stay at a very high level for more than a few seconds. Every 5 seconds say the number out loud to make it real, to reinforce the truth to your brain - that this is not going to be the end of you - that you do have control.
- When you find yourself thinking about the fear, change your "what if" thinking. Focus on and carry out a simple and manageable task such as counting backwards from 100 by 3's or snapping a rubber band on your wrist. Sit down; try counting the squares of tile on the floor.
- Notice that when you stop adding frightening thoughts to your fear, it begins to fade.
- When the fear comes, expect and accept it. Wait and give it time to pass without running away from it.
- Be proud of yourself for your progress thus far, and think about how good you will feel when you succeed this time.
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