The Power of Positive Thinking
Anxiety Gold Coast: One way of tackling panic attacks is to look at the way you talk to yourself, especially during times of stress and pressure. Panic attacks often begin or escalate when you tell yourself scary things, like “I feel light-headed . . . I’m about to faint!” or “I’m trapped in this traffic jam and something terrible is going to happen!” or “If I go outside, I’ll freak out.” These are called “negative predictions” and they have a strong influence on the way your body feels. If you’re mentally predicting a disaster, your body’s alarm response goes off and the “fight-flight response” kicks in.
To combat this, try to focus on calming, positive thoughts, like “I’m learning to deal with panicky feelings and I know that people overcome panic all the time” or “This will pass quickly, and I can help myself by concentrating on my breathing and imagining a relaxing place” or “These feelings are uncomfortable, but they won’t last forever.”
Sometimes it’s helpful to remind yourself of these FACTS about panic attacks:
- A panic attack cannot cause heart failure or a heart attack.
- A panic attack cannot cause you to stop breathing.
- A panic attack cannot cause you to faint.
- A panic attack cannot cause you to “go crazy.”
- A panic attack cannot cause you to lose control of yourself.
If it’s too hard for you to think calming thoughts or to concentrate on relaxation strategies when you’re having a panic attack, find ways to distract yourself from the negative thoughts and feelings.
Some people do this by talking to other people when they feel the panic coming on. Others prefer to exercise or work on a detailed project or hobby. Changing scenery can sometimes be helpful, too, but it’s important not to get into a pattern of avoiding necessary daily tasks. If you notice that you’re regularly avoiding things like driving, going shopping, going to work, or taking public transport, it’s probably time to get some professional help.
Put a stop to the thoughts that lead to anxiety, and to replace those thoughts with realistic, rational thoughts. Then, when these self-statements are practiced and learned, your brain takes over automatically. This is a form of conditioning, meaning that your brain chemistry (neurotransmission) actually changes as a result of your new thinking habits. This is the foundation of Cognitive Behaviour Therapy.
First, use thought stoppage. Be gentle but firm about it.
“STOP! These thoughts are not good for me. They are not healthy or helpful thoughts, and I have decided to move in a better direction and learn to think differently.”
(You are reminding and reinforcing your brain each and every time you make this rational and realistic statement.)
Then, pick two or three statements from the list below that seem to help you, and repeat them to yourself OUT LOUD each day. (You don’t have to believe them fully yet – that will happen later).
When Anxiety is Near: General Statements
- I’m going to be all right. My feelings are not always rational. I’m just going to relax, calm down, and everything will be all right.
- Anxiety is not dangerous — it’s just uncomfortable. I am fine; I’ll just continue with what I’m doing or find something more active to do.
- Right now I have some feelings I don’t like. They are really just phantoms, however, because they are disappearing. I will be fine.
- Right now I have feelings I don’t like. They will be over with soon and I’ll be fine. For now, I am going to focus on doing something else around me.
- That picture (image) in my head is not a healthy or rational picture. Instead, I’m going to focus on something healthy like _________________________.
- I’ve stopped my negative thoughts before and I’m going to do it again now. I am becoming better and better at deflecting these automatic negative thoughts (ANTs) and that makes me happy.
- So I feel a little anxiety now, SO WHAT? It’s not like it’s the first time. I am going to take some nice deep breaths and keep on going. This will help me continue to get better.”
Statements to use when Preparing for a Stressful Situation
- I’ve done this before so I know I can do it again
- When this is over, I’ll be glad that I did it.
- The feeling I have about this trip doesn’t make much sense. This anxiety is like a mirage in the desert. I’ll just continue to “walk” forward until I pass right through it.
- This may seem hard now, but it will become easier and easier over time.
- I think I have more control over these thoughts and feelings than I once imagined. I am very gently going to turn away from my old feelings and move in a new, better direction.
Statements to use when I feel overwhelmed
- I can be anxious and still focus on the task at hand. As I focus on the task, my anxiety will go down.
- Anxiety is a old habit pattern that my body responds to. I am going to calmly and nicely change this old habit. I feel a little bit of peace, despite my anxiety, and this peace is going to grow and grow. As my peace and security grow, then anxiety and panic will have to shrink.
- At first, my anxiety was powerful and scary, but as time goes by it doesn’t have the hold on me that I once thought it had. I am moving forward gently and nicely all the time.
- I don’t need to fight my feelings. I realize that these feelings won’t be allowed to stay around very much longer. I just accept my new feelings of peace, contentment, security, and confidence.
- All these things that are happening to me seem overwhelming. But I’ve caught myself this time and I refuse to focus on these things. Instead, I’m going to talk slowly to myself, focus away from my problem, and continue with what I have to do. In this way, my anxiety will have to shrink away and disappear.
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