One of the most common questions I get from my readers is “how to stop a panic attack“. What to do now, when the fear is building up and panic is lurking behind the corner?
I know from personal experience that when panic starts, it sure feels like there’s nothing you can do to stop the horrific panic attack, but you’re wrong.
There is a way to stop a panic attack dead in its tracks. A little CBT trick/exercise that has always worked for me and now I want to share it with you.
I’ve “stolen” this exercise (with permission…:)) from the Panic Away program, and you’ll be blown away by how simple and effective it is:
How to Stop a Panic Attack in 20 Sec.
When you feel the sensation of a panic attack building up, do the following:
Tell the panic that it has 20 seconds to initiate the full panic attack. 20 seconds and no more.
After the 20 seconds are complete it must stop making empty threats. You are allowing 20 seconds for it to fully manifest but not a second more. Whatever the bodily sensation that you fear is, it must happen within that 20 second time frame.
– If you heart is going to explode then it has 20 seconds to do so.
– If you are going to lose control, then your mind has 20 seconds to do so.
– If you are going to faint – 20 seconds! But absolutely no more time than that.
You get the picture. By setting a specific time frame you establish boundaries of control. You turn it into a game where you call fear’s bluff. If it were a poker game, you are asking anxiety to show its hand. This works because it establishes a sense of control within your mind and body.
You think to yourself “I am not prepared to spend my time worrying about this. I’ve had enough. I am going to be generous and give it 20 seconds but after 20 seconds and nothing has happened then the opportunity has officially passed and I am going to go back to what I was doing.”
Then start counting – But nice and slowly, don’t rattle it off as fast as you can. Really tease it out like you did when you were a child and you never wanted to reach zero. Teasing it out is the key because it allows you to feel generous and that you are giving anxiety every chance possible. Deep down you know there is really nothing to fear.
To really help tease it out, break the last few numbers into fractions. 5………………………….. 4………………………….. 3…………………………… 2…and three quarters… 2…and half……………… 2………………………….. 1…and three quarters… (last chance anxiety) 1…and half……………… (I really can’t wait any longer) 1………………………….. 0. Sorry too late we’ve reached the end.
By not rushing through the countdown you will feel your confidence rising because you are demonstrating real control and authority over your anxious thoughts and bodily sensations. You are saying “look, I am really trying to give you all the time I can to unleash X,Y, and Z, I am being very generous here with this countdown.
Count your way to freedom. Count your way to confidence.
Will This Technique Be Enough to Stop a Panic Attack?
It will stop your panic attack right now, but it won’t resolve your general anxiety or panic disorder. In Panic Away you will find a complete CBT program that you can implement from the privacy of your own home, without going to counseling (and for a fraction of the cost…)
I can’t guarantee that it will work for you, but it did work for me, and you won’t know until you try it. That’s a fact.
What do you think? Can a simple CBT technique for anxiety really stop an anxiety attack?
To your health & happiness,
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