This exercise is designed to help you find out why you are panicking, not in itself to calm the panic attack. If you want to work on calming down anxiety/panic, then you can click here.
Panic attacks is a common emotional state in humans. Remember that we have survived as a result of being somewhat anxious and able to avoid dangers. At the same time, it is often the case that we become anxious without there being an actual danger. Sometimes this anxiety takes on the shape of panic attacks.
Most often, panic attacks is a reaction to an underlying feeling. For example, many people panic from suddenly feeling alone or lonely, as if no one is available. Another common variation is that we panic after experiencing painful, traumatic things. Then the underlying feeling is one of terror of what happened, as if the body remembers it. A third variation is when we experience a threat of losing someone important to us. Then there is an underlying fear of what is going to happen.
When you feel an emotion that you don’t know why is there, there are especially two things that are useful to do. The first thing is to decide to be curious about why you have responded as you have done. The second is to listen inward in the body to help find the answer. You can follow these steps to try to get some more clarity, and feel free to write down your reflections around each point:
1. Think back on the last time you had the feeling of panic.
2. Before it happened, how were you feeling? What had happened earlier that day?
3. Describe the situation where the feeling of panic appeared.
4. Imagine that you are in the situation. What is it about the situation that stands especially out for you? Do you remember what you saw and what you were thinking? Can you find what triggered the panic attack?
5. When you imagine yourself in the situation, contact your body and describe what happened.
6. What was it that made the situation so terrible for you? Can you find the underlying feeling?
7. If you find an underlying emotion, see if you can explore it by just listening to the feeling.
8. What would you have needed in that situation?
9. Acknowledge that you felt what you felt and that it was an understandable reaction to an important need.
No matter what the exercise led to for you, see if you can give yourself a pat on the shoulder for having done the exercise. If you’ve figured out something new, how do you want this to affect you in your life? Take a few seconds to turn your attention back to here and now, and get ready to continue your day.