What to Say to Yourself During a Panic Attack
If you've ever had a panic attack, or know someone who has--you know it gets really scary, really fast. In these moments, people can say things in their mind that might further the panic, "What's happening to me?" "Am I okay?" "Can I breathe?" "Will I make it out of this alive?"
I think that what you say to yourself during this time is critical to the outcome of the attack. If you can change the statements, you may be able to change the outcome. It may linger, but hopefully not as long. It may feel scary, but hopefully not quite as much. Next time you feel panic start to onset, try to choose a few of these phrases instead (and repeat them over and over in your mind or out loud):
I know what is happening
I am in a safe place
I know it feels like I am going to (die, faint, lost control) but I don't have to
I've survived this before, so I can now too
I know this will pass so I will just wait
I will be okay even if I don't feel okay now
I can breathe (I can feel the breath coming in and out of my lungs)
I can call for help if I need to (I don't have to be alone)
I don't have to figure this out right now, right now I can just focus on my breath
Right now I am choosing to think about ______ (insert something positive) instead
And then.. remember to breathe. Deep breath in (hold), let it all the way out--and repeat for at least 5 minutes.
This is a SUPER SIMPLIFIED way to help panic attacks. In addition to positive statements and breathing, is is critical to see your doctor to rule out any physical causes, and partner with a therapist who can help you decrease panic all together. But hopefully, this is a good place to start.
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