Coping With Panic and Stress

Thinking

  • What messages do I say to myself as I get panicky?
  • Am I exaggerating ("always", "never," etc.)?
  • Am I expecting a high probability of an outcome of dire consequences?
  • Am I oversimplifying (if A happens, then B must follow)?
  • What payoff do I get from panic (avoidance of aversive responsibilities, failure, or feared situation; attention from others)?

Feeling

  • How do I feel before, during, and after panic?
  • How do I know/label those feelings?

Behavior

  • What situations set off the panic?
  • Do my breathing, heartbeat, muscle tension, or body movements change?
  • What actions are different (do I cry, sweat, hide, yell, shiver, etc.)?

Face It

  • Seek and accept treatment (learn panic reduction and stress management skills).
  • Take an active role in your own care
  • Build a reservoir of coping strategies (meditate on positive or pleasant images, develop symbols of being in control to modify fears, learn hypnosis, use diversion, listen to relaxation tapes).

Avoid Your Panic

  • Distance yourself from the panic and stress in your imagination (think about something long ago, far away, or in the future).
  • Distance yourself via external distraction (initiate pleasant activity immediately, call someone, exercise, meet someone else's need).
  • Distance yourself via internal cognition (deny, joke, intellectualize).
  • Avoid situations that trigger the panic.
  • Avoid excessive use of stimulants and caffeine, skipping meals, and excessive fatigue.

Turn To Others

  • Share your feeling and fears.
  • Seek support from your family, friends, or therapist.
  • Pray.