Choosing which path to take when overcoming a panic attack can be difficult, as each path requires a different set of responses that may or may not produce effective results. Sometimes, sticking with a certain technique for the sake of ‘perfecting’ it won’t be the best approach, as these can render the technique ineffective, thus giving you the same negative result over and over again.
Exploring different techniques and finding which will work best for your case will help you achieve faster progress, and studies show that the five step technique— adapted and modified from several other techniques, has been highly effective among its users. This five step technique is called ‘AWARE’, with each letter representing one step in the process.
The ‘A’ stands for acknowledging and accepting that you are experiencing a panic attack. You must be able to recognize the symptoms and accept the fact that these symptoms will continue to become dominant within your senses. Any progress in overcoming your panic attack will stem from this step, so it is crucial to neither ignore nor suppress the feelings of panic, but to simply acknowledge its presence.
The ‘W’ stands for waiting and watching, which entails attempting to regain your ability to process logical thoughts and concentrate. Panic attacks are usually characterized by a loss of these abilities, so simply standing your ground and waiting will enable you to control your actions before you unintentionally and instinctively flee or struggle. Watch how your mind and body react as you remain in place; hopefully the relief will be the one coming to you gradually, instead of you running to seek it out.
If all goes well with this step, the waiting and watching will most likely change to working. By this point, you have already successfully dealt with the two most crucial steps in overcoming your panic attack.
The second ‘A’ in ‘AWARE’ stands for the actions you will take to make yourself feel more at ease and comfortable with your surroundings as the panic begins to subside. These actions can differ from each person, as you can choose whichever simple action will provide you comfort. For example, some actions include deep breathing by expanding your belly instead of your chest, or talking to yourself by simply providing assuring words such as, “I’ll be okay.”
The ‘R’ stands for repeat when you have another panic attack. You can repeat these steps however many times you’d like if they prove to be effective for you.
Lastly, ‘E’ stands for end. Congratulations, you have successfully overcome your panic attack!