In a calm, panic-free moment, it is easy to understand that an anxiety attack is simply false alarm going off in your brain and you need not fear it. But in the midst of a panic, it is hard to think rationally. What you need in these high-anxiety moments is a simple anxiety-fighting mantra (a phrase that is repeated often and expresses your basic beliefs) to coach you through the discomfort.
Review the list of helpful anxiety-fighting mantras our clients frequently use:
- This too shall pass.
- What does not kill me, makes me stronger.
- I may not like this, but I can handle it.
- Bring it on.
- This is a false alarm going off in my brain.
- This is uncomfortable but not dangerous.
- I can ride this out.
- Just because I feel like I am going crazy, does not mean I am truly going crazy.
- I am ok; I just don’t feel ok.
- Short term pain, long term gain.
Now, it is time for you to come up with your own anxiety-fighting mantra. What will speak to you is unique, based on your own biology and life experience. Your anxiety- fighting mantra may evolve and change over time. Just take a step back at this very moment and notice what your mind offers up. (Note that if you are in a negative mood and your mind is offering up mantras such as “anxiety sucks, and I will never be free of it,” you may want to try this exercise in a few hours.)
Like any good tool, owning it is only half the battle. You actually have to use a tool
to benefit from its existence. The hardest part about using a anxiety-fighting mantra is that the times you need it the most are the moments when this material is the least accessible. Your brain will not offer up anything calming when in the midst of an anxiety attack. The only message your brain cares that you hear when knee-deep in anxiety is “A lion is about to eat your face. You better run for your life.” Therefore, you need to rely on the assistance of your immediate environment to remind you of your anxiety-fighting mantra.
Think about the anxiety symptoms that you have experienced over the last few days. Where were you? What were you doing? For each of these anxiety fueled moments, think about how you could have best accessed your panic-fighting mantra.
Check off three ways you will inject your anxiety-fighting mantra into your environment.
- Type and place my anxiety-fighting mantra somewhere readily available in my phone.
- Place sticky notes with mantra in key places throughout my home.
- Create a bracelet or some other form of jewelry that reminds me of my mantra.
- Ask trusted friends and family to remind me of my mantra.
- Record an audio or video message to myself, reminding me of my mantra and that I will survive whatever panic symptoms arise.
- Send myself a text or e-mail, written at a calm moment, to be read in a panic- filled moment.
- Draw a picture that symbolizes my mantra, carry this picture in my wallet or take a picture of the image, and keep it accessible in my phone.
- Create a panic-fighting play list to be accessible from my phone or computer.