Stopping Anxiety Attacks with Positive Self-talk
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Your heart is racing. You feel it pounding in your chest. You feel like you are going to die or something horrible is going to happen. Who wouldn’t feel anxious when experiencing these symptoms?
Anxiety attack symptoms set us up for more anxiety. It is no wonder that many people who experience anxiety attacks will avoid activities that they fear will trigger an anxiety attack.
The common anxiety attack symptoms are chest tightness, shortness of breath, nausea, tingling or numbness, trembling, choking sensation, chills, hot flashes, sweating, dizziness or lightheadedness, and an accelerated heart rate. Anxiety attacks cause fear of dying, a sense of being disconnected from reality, and fear of losing control. The fear may be a more general fear that something bad is going to happen.
Some people become more anxious during an anxiety attack if they mistake the symptoms for a heart attack. Others may become terrified of the feeling that they are going to die. Unfortunately, becoming more anxious due to the symptoms does not help the situation.
The first thing to remember is that it is natural to have anxiety over the symptoms of an anxiety attack. If a person experiences a fear of dying, it is a normal psychological response to feel anxious because of that fear. The key to stopping anxiety attacks is to accept the normal feelings associated with the anxiety attack, but challenge the validity of the original anxiety.
For example, if I start to develop anxiety attack symptoms in the middle of a grocery store, I might start to experience a fear of dying. I can accept any anxiety about having the symptoms, but remind myself that I am in no real danger. To stop anxiety attacks, I might tell myself statements like “I am having an anxiety attack which makes me feel threatened. I have a right to feel anxious over these symptoms, but I am in no real danger. The symptoms of my disorder are lying to me and telling me that I am in danger when I am not.”
Having positive internal conversations or pep talks with yourself, commonly referred to as “positive self-talk” is an ideal way to challenge the fear response and assure yourself that there is no true danger. In doing so, you may be able to stop anxiety attacks or feel capable of dealing with anxiety attacks. However, what I tell myself to get through anxiety attacks may be vastly different from what you or anyone else finds helpful. I often use this method to regain control during an anxiety attack. If you use positive self-talk, what kinds of things do you tell yourself?