This is a strategy for managing the catastrophic thoughts people tend to have during a panic attack.
- Focus on breathing as slowly as you can. Be aware particularly of extending your exhale.
- Don’t “fight” the panic – name to yourself that you’re panicking and remind yourself that this is not dangerous.
- Remember all the times that you have had panic attacks and have overcome them.
- Muscle relaxation – tense and relax your muscles in sequence – feet, lower legs, upper legs, stomach, arms, shoulders, neck, head.
- Don’t deny or suppress the thought fuelling the panic e.g. “I’m going to die”. Don’t avoid the thought, but look deeply into it. Question if the thought is a fact, or is it just an opinion?
- Write it down – Capture the thought, write it down exactly as you’re experiencing it.
- Now write down a more realistic alternative thought. If you’re thinking “I’m going to die”, this could be as simple as “I feel like I’m going to die – but I’m going to be ok”.
- Once you begin to feel more relaxed, look at the thought written down and remind yourself that it is just a thought.