8 Steps for Coping with Feelings of Panic

1. Try to keep in mind that feelings of panic are simply exaggerated bodily responses. They are an over-reaction to perceived feelings of threat.  Your brain is trying to keep you safe.

2. The sensations themselves are neither harmful nor dangerous. Nothing worse is going to happen to you. In time the feelings will start to dissipate.

3. Do your best to stop adding to the feelings of panic by imagining all kinds of scary “what if” scenarios. Instead, try to reign in thoughts of where the panic might lead, and how much worse the situation could become.

4. Consciously work on grounding yourself in the present. Like an outside observer, do your best to notice what is happening in you, and around you. Try to be as detached and curious as possible. Describe what you are observing in simple, concrete terms (both inside your body, and in the environment).

5. Be patient. Wait it out. Allow the feelings to gradually weaken, and to slowly dissipate.

6. Notice how taking control of your thinking affects your emotions and physiology. Notice that doing this has the knock-on effect of reducing the intense and overwhelming scary feelings. It changes your emotions and your physiology, in a positive way.

7. Deliberately move your thinking from what you are feeling, to thinking about what you will do afterwards – once the feelings of panic have subsided. What is the first thing you will do? What will you do next? What will you do after that?

8. As you notice your feelings coming under control, begin to think about all the progress you have. Think about they way you are now able to take control of a panic attack. Think about the progress you have made in dealing with a trauma or a stressful situation.  As you noticed how you’ve changed, you will feel a sense of pride, and an increasing sense of bravery, courage and strength. Stay with those feelings for a while. Then, when you are ready, move on with your day.

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