15 April 2020

Coping with panic attacks


Do you suffer from panic attacks? You can stop panic attacks in their tracks using the AWARE technique. ‘AWARE’ is an acronym used for the process of stopping panic attacks.

A – Accept

Accept the anxiety and feelings of fear

  • Try not to fear them coming – accept it’s there, it’s not nice, but it’s just a feeling, it doesn’t mean anything except that you are feeling anxious, and it will pass
  • If this is hard, try telling yourself ‘Dave /your name, it’s ok, you’re having a panic attack
  • Picture your worrying thoughts as being like a leaf drifting past on a river – watch them, be aware of them, but know that they are just thoughts, and watch them float by, you will think other thoughts.

W – Watch

Watch the anxiety, rate it from 1-10 and notice how it is affecting your body and your breathing.

  • What symotoms are you feeling? Remember these are caused by your anxiety and nothing to worry about.
  • Observe your breathing and try to practice a breathing exercise.

A – Act

Act normal – try and focus on doing something. Acting like everything’s normal tells your brain that it is.

  • Although it’s hard, start by just trying to do a small manageable task, such as put the kettle on, do some washing up, go for a walk or try something you enjoy.
  • Doing, rather than thinking, uses a different part of your brain to the worry part, and helps get the calm rational side of your brain working instead of ‘fight or flight’.

R – Repeat

Keep repeating the above steps

  • Every time feelings of panic bubble up, remind yourself it’s just a panic attack, rate the fear from 1-10, and keep acting normal

E – Expect

Expect the best. Taking these steps means the panic will have a little less control over you each time, and that you are taking control

  • Try and fight any negative thoughts of ‘this will never work’ or it’s no good, these are just negative thoughts and can be a natural response to anxiety, you do not have to listen to them.
  • You are embracing your inner fear and putting the functioning side of your brain – rather than the fear / fight or flight, back in control
  • It will feel hard to begin with, but each time you put the AWARE technique into practice it will be easier.

For helpful Youtube video on the Aware technique: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Hg57CDGDWjU