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Overcoming Anxiety and Panic Attacks: A Ten Step Response

  1. Be present. When you are experiencing a panic attack, try to acknowledge the situation realistically. Tell yourself, “This will be a good chance to try out one of my new coping strategies.” Ask yourself “am I really in danger or just experiencing discomfort?” Remind yourself that you’ll get afraid, but you will calm back down like you always do. Try to be more in the moment, using your thoughts to steer away from your fears.
  2. Talk to yourself. When you start to feel yourself panic, try to talk yourself out of your feelings. Play the role of a concerned friend who shows the lack of evidence for your worry based “what-ifs”. State the cause of your worry out loud, and then try to find fault with your reasoning.
  3. Breathe. During a full-fledged panic attack, your breathing becomes more rapid as your body prepares for a fight-or-flight reaction. Place one of your hands on your diaphragm and the other on your upper chest. Breathe slowly in through your nose and hold for five seconds. The hand on your diaphragm rises as you breathe whilst the one on your chest stays still. Then slowly exhale for another five seconds. Focusing on the counting and hand placement can help reduce feelings of panic.
  4. Exercise. Regular exercise can help release tension. Introducing an exercise regimen can also have excellent long-term benefits.
  5. Relax. Scanning your body for tense muscles helps relaxation. Close your eyes and focus on curling your toes for five seconds, then release them. Move onto your feet and then slowly work your way up your body, focusing on contracting and relaxing one muscle group at a time. You should feel a lot calmer by the time you reach your face muscles.
  6. Distract yourself. When feelings of panic start to set in, distraction can be a good way to redirect your thoughts. Listening to music, drinking water or begin a hobby that actively engages your mind such as reading or practising a foreign language.
  7. Meditate. Many people who suffer from feelings of panic, anxiety and nervousness find that meditating can help. During meditation, your body remains still as you focus on one particular object, word, or your breath. This is also beneficial even when you’re not in the middle of an overwhelming panic. So try meditating for ten minutes every day.
  8. Talk to your doctor about medication. Some people suffering from panic disorders find medication can reduce symptoms. It can help take the edge off of an extreme situation so the physiology is less intense, making it more possible to cope.
  9. Join or visit a support group. Support groups for people who suffer from panic attacks and phobias can be a tremendous help. Many people feel reassured knowing there are others who can identify with their feelings, and sufferers are able to share coping strategies and inspire one another.
  10. Consider therapy. When your panic becomes too much for you to manage on your own counselling can be a good option. Counselling can help you understand the roots of your anxiety and how to reduce unnecessary panic.
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