Panic is an overwhelming feeling of anxiety which occurs suddenly, without warning, and often for no apparent reason, and comes on in a wave of feeling, known as a panic attack.
1. Stay where you are
If possible, you should stay where you are during a panic attack. As the attack could last up to one hour, you may need to pull over and park where it's safe to do so if driving. Then pause for moment, observe your thoughts and tell yourself that your mind is reacting to these thoughts and anxiety. These feelings are normal - it's just the body's alarm system doing its job when it doesn't need to.
2. Learn to control your breathing
By learning to slow your breathing down, you can help prevent the uncomfortable physical symptoms and stop the panic cycle. Try to get a slower and more stable breathing rhythm by breathing in for three seconds, holding your breath for two seconds, and then breathing out for three seconds.
3. Learn to use positive coping statements
When you are feeling anxious and panicky it can be helpful to have 'coping statements' which can be used to remind you that panic is not dangerous and isn't harmful. Such statements could be: - My anxiety and panic will pass naturally given time. It doesn't last forever - I can continue without needing to escape or avoid - I have never fainted, choked, or had a heart attack Reminding yourself of these facts can help to prevent further panic cycles happening.
4. Shift your focus
Even though we may believe a lot of the unhelpful thoughts during a panic attack, these thoughts should be challenged as they are often based on incorrect assumptions. For example, misinterpreting the physical changes in the body during panic as "I'm having a heart attack".
To challenge and answer this negative thought, you would ask: what could you have said to yourself that would have helped?
Keeping a diary of what happens each time you panic can help you to spot patterns in what triggers these experiences for you, so that you can think about how to deal with these situations in the future.