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How to make panic attacks a thing of the past

john graham


For me, one of the most rewarding part s of my job as a coach is helping people who are suffering from panic/anxiety attacks.  Why?  Well mainly because I suffered from them myself for many years.

One event that I remember really clearly was when I had one at work.  I was beavering away at my desk then out of the blue my chest starting to tighten.  My first thought was "Oh no!" and the second thought was "not here in front of everyone!".  My chest got tighter and my heart started thumping. I was struggling to get breath but I managed to get up and run out of the office and into the fire exit (luckily it wasn’t alarmed or that would have been even more mortifying).  Sitting in the fire exit, my heart felt as if it was going to burst through my shirt & it felt as if the walls around me were closing in. I thought I was going to pass out (I never did). Even though it seemed as if it last for ages, in all honesty it was probably just a few minutes. Eventually my chest loosened, my breathing became more controlled and I managed to gather myself and sheepishly went back to my desk. 

This was a fairly common occurrence for me, at least once a week.  I saw myself as someone who had panic attacks & constantly worried about when they were going to strike again.  I regularly got in a panic worrying about panicking! 

Eventually, I had had enough and made a few changes to my relationship with these episodes.  The last time I had one was around 12 years ago and I’ve never had one since.

So what were some of the lessons learnt that helped them become a thing of the past for me?  What are some of the things I work with my clients on to help remove them from their lives? 

1.    The first thing for me was to stop worrying about having them.  “Easier said that done” I hear you say.   We are always living in the feeling of our thinking.  So if I’m constantly worrying about having one that’s going to create stress in my body.  When stress was created I was then linking it to panic.  Which then made me panic!  So for me I just decided to no longer engage with all the thoughts I was having about panic attacks.  I just decided not to make them a big deal (in reality they had only been taking up a few minutes of my day every now and then).

2.    Stop resisting them.  Obviously when I was having these attacks they were really unpleasant experiences.  As they were unpleasant when ever I started to have one I would try & resist them. Trying to push back.  This really isn’t helpful though.  The more you try to resist a thought or a feeling the more it sticks around.  By resisting it all I was doing was actually giving it my attention & that was giving it energy.  So the opposite of resisting was to welcome it.  That might sound a bit weird but whenever I welcomed the feeling a full-blown attack never actually happened.

3.    Finally, accepting that this was just a normal thing that sometimes happened.   In reality it couldn’t harm me.  By accepting it, it was no longer a big deal in my life.  As it was no longer a big deal in my life over time I stopped thinking about them all together.  As I was no longer looking for signs of panic they stopped showing up in my life.

For any of you who suffer from anxiety attacks I really encourage you to try this out.  Rather than resist, just allow.  Rather than worry about them just accept.  The mind only gets busy when it thinking there’s something that needs ‘fixing’. By no longer making them a problem the mind doesn’t have to come up with a solution to anything.  The head calms naturally.

So many of us needlessly let these events rule our lives. Stop us from fully participating in the things we want to do.   It doesn’t have to be like that and with a couple of tweaks to your relationship with them you can make them a thing of the pas