Do you suffer from panic attacks? Take the time to learn the acronym “BRAVE” to remember five great strategies for dealing with panic attacks.

Dr. Melanie Badali, R.Psych. is a Leadership and Workplace Consultant with MyWorkplaceHealth. Dr. Badali helps leaders clarify their vision and put their values into action using effective psychological strategies.

Panic attacks can feel terrifying in the moment. Managing your thoughts and behaviours can go a long way toward reducing the frequency and intensity of panic symptoms, as well as how much they interfere with your life. The more you know about the experience of panic attacks – the better you will be able to manage them.

Take the time to learn the acronym “BRAVE” to remember five great strategies for dealing with panic attacks.

1. Body knowledge

Learn the facts about panic. A panic attack is your body preparing you to deal with danger (Our fight-flight-freeze (F3) response gets activated). If there is no danger – your body is giving you a false alarm.

2. Realistic thinking

Try not to panic about panic. Remind yourself that the panic is not harmful. Your body is experiencing a false alarm – your F3 system has kicked into gear at the wrong time – the alarm will stop ringing in time. Panic is hard but harmless. Think of it like a migraine headache – real and uncomfortable but not life-threatening. You can cope and function during a panic attack.

3. Acceptance

Accept that once your body’s alarm system has been triggered, it will take a while before it settles down.
Your body can’t un-release adrenaline once you realize it’s a false alarm, so it will take a while for your body to return to normal. Once your sympathetic nervous system gets revved up, it will take a while for your parasympathetic nervous system to settle things down, like slowing down a fast-moving train.

4. Validation

Validate your experience. Panic attacks are real and very uncomfortable. But they are not deadly and you do not have to let them stop you. You may be suffering but you are also strong.

5. End

Remind yourself that panic attacks end. They do not last forever. It’s not your job to stop or end a panic attack. Your only job is to ride the wave of panic. Surf it or dive into it. Trying to fight or end panic tends to make it worse. You can handle the panic attack.

If you try the BRAVE techniques and you don’t see a change, don’t quit. These are just five tips, and there are many more things people can do to manage panic attacks. Remember that panic is treatable. If you are experiencing regular panic attacks and struggling to manage them on your own it might be time to consider seeking professional support. Doing so does not mean you aren’t brave or capable but no one has to manage everything on their own. A psychologist can help you to identify triggers as well as work on specific skills that will help you manage your panic.

For resources on evidence-based therapies and virtual (online) counselling options, check out our website, or contact us if you have any questions. Learning more can help you manage and BRAVE your anxiety when panic attacks.

Disclaimer: Tips provided in this blog post are not meant to replace evidence-based psychotherapy or pharmacotherapy for anxiety disorders. If panic attacks are causing you a lot of distress or interfering with your life, consult with a trained health care provider.

In addition to her role with MyWorkplaceHealth, Dr. Badali is also the Director of Anxiety Canada, which offers lots of free resources to help you learn about panic, panic disorder, and the evidence-based strategies for dealing with them.

To learn more about the consulting services Dr. Badali offers, or about other MyWorkplaceHealth service offerings, get in touch!