So you suffer from high levels of anxiety and have experienced panic attacks before? You can talk to your GP about the variety of treatments available – medication, counseling, CBT etc. Choice of treatment will probably depend on the severity of the attacks you experience.
But whilst you are waiting for the treatment to work (both with medication and with psychotherapy it might take a while), could you do something to help yourself? How do you pre-empt the panic attack?
Here are four simple steps you can go through if you feel that you might be about to experience a panic attack. Each step offers a different strategy and if one does not work, you should move to the next step.
Be aware of the here and now
We feel anxious because we are thinking about either the past or the future events. Being aware of the here and now will help you feel grounded. You could use mindfulness technique, by telling yourself what you are feeling right now, focusing on your breathing and, if your thoughts wander – bring them back into the present.
Remind yourself of your positive qualities
When we are feeling anxious it is all too easy to blame ourselves, which, in turn, makes us feel even more anxious. If you can turn on a positive internal voice you might feel more confident and relaxed as a result.
Remind yourself that a panic attack is not inevitable
You might be associating a panic attack with a certain feeling. This feeling might become fixed in your consciousness and appear immoveable. The reality is that we can choose how we feel, think and behave in different situations. It could be very helpful to realize that you can choose not to have a panic attack.
Think of the best scenario
If a certain situation is making you anxious, it may be helpful to visualize it developing in a positive way and then memorizing this visualization. Research demonstrates that our brain makes no distinction between a situation that really happened and the one that we imagined. By imagining ourselves being confident, for example, we can train our brain to always feel that way.