There are several things you can do to try and cope with panic (anxiety attacks). Knowing what to do and actually being able to deal with the feelings of panic and two totally different things though.
I will (below) try and give you guidelines on how to deal with panic. How you manage it is up to you. You can either practice the things below or adapt them to suit yourself, which ever you feel able to cope with the best.
Coping with the feelings of Panic
- Let it happen and wait for it to pass.
- Practice coping with it, to deal with the situation and accept the bodily feelings (though unpleasant) as natural.
- Never leave a situation unless the feeling of panic is going down. Stay until you feel better.
- Try and use breathing techniques to help control your breathing and ultimately the panic attack.
Always remember that:
- The feelings are normal bodily reactions.
- They are not harmful.
- Don’t add frightening thoughts (this will only panic you more and can lead to hyperventilation).
- Describe what is happening (do this as a reassuring exercise in your mind or out load if it helps).
- Wait for the fear to pass (try some breathing exercises or think of a calming thought or word).
- Notice when it fades (make a mental note of what this feels like and how long it took to pass).
- It is an opportunity for progress (each time you recover from a panic attack use this as a positive and take note how this felt the next time).
- Think of what you have done (as in 7. use this to help you next time).
- Plan what to do next (don’t just think “Okay it’s over now” and try to carry on as though nothing happened).
- Then start off slowly (rushing things at this stage can result in another panic attack).
Okay, all that said try these “Ten rules for coping with panic” along with your breathing exercises to help create a programme (specific to you) in dealing with panic attacks in stressful situations:
- Remember that the feelings are nothing more than an exaggeration of the normal bodily reaction to stress.
- They are not in the least harmful or dangerous – just unpleasant. Nothing worse will happen.
- Stop adding to panic with frightening thoughts about what is happening and where it might lead.
- Now notice what is really happening in your body right now, not what you fear might happen.
- Now wait and give the fear time to pass, without fighting it or running away from it. Just accept it.
- Notice that once you stop adding to it with frightening thoughts the fear starts to fade away by itself.
- Remember that the whole point of practice is learning how to cope with fear without avoiding it. So this is an opportunity to make progress.
- Think of the progress you have made so far, despite all the difficulties and how pleased you will be when you have succeeded this time.
- When you begin to feel better, look around you and start to plan what to do next.
- Then, when you are ready to go on. Start off in an easy and relaxed way. There is no need for effort or to hurry.