Overcoming Anxiety and Panic Attacks

Overcoming anxiety and panic can be challenging - but it is possible.


I suffer from anxiety and panic attacks. I know that panic cannot harm me but when it happens I still get scared. I do not like the symptoms I get when I'm in a panic. What can I do to make it feel better? Thanks, M.

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Dear M,

Your question is something many people can relate to. Everyone has experienced anxiety at some point, and although not everyone experiences panic attacks, they are actually quite common.

Panic attacks are terrifying. Even though you know that the panic cannot harm you, in the moment it seems like you are in great danger.

The good news is, there are ways to feel better. Overcoming anxiety and panic is possible. The objectives in feeling better are 1) get through the anxiety in the moment when it occurs, and 2) defeat the anxiety in the long term.

How to get through anxiety and panic attacks:

- Acknowledge that you are feeling anxious
- Accept that you feel anxious rather than trying to fight it
- Assure yourself that the feeling will pass
- Make yourself as comfortable as possible while the feeling passes
- Walk, do jumping jacks, or otherwise physically move around
- Talk to someone to distract yourself and get support
- Do relaxation techniques to help the anxiety go away more quickly

For examples of how to talk yourself through panic or anxiety attacks, see the anxiety relief relaxation scripts and the relaxation for anxiety relief audio.

Overcoming anxiety and panic in the long term:

- Face the anxiety (exposure therapy)
- Change the negative thoughts associated with anxiety (cognitive techniques)
- Explore emotions that might be behind the anxiety (hidden emotion technique)

For more information about defeating anxiety, visit the Inner Health Studio Relaxation and Self Help Store to see my book recommendations such as David Burns' When Panic Attacks.

But first, it is important to learn more about your anxiety by taking note of some of the details about the anxiety or panic attacks you experience, for example:
- When you feel the most anxious (where, what time of day, what is going on at the time)
- How severe the anxiety is, on a scale from 1 - 10
- What your symptoms are
- How long the anxiety lasts
- When and how the symptoms subside

To track these details, you can use journaling. Download a free Relaxation Journal from our Members Only area. This Relaxation Journal will allow you to monitor your physical and emotional symptoms and evaluate the effectiveness of the relaxation techniques you try.

You can use the relaxation journal to determine which relaxation techniques are most effective for you, what times of day tend to be the most stressful, and which time of day relaxation works the best. You can also see your progress by noticing changes in your overall stress level.

Dealing with anxiety is possible - a combination of relaxation and other self-help techniques is a recipe for success.

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