Sit down and relax

PUBLISHED : Friday, 11 April, 2003, 12:00am
UPDATED : Friday, 11 April, 2003, 12:00am

Information from government sources tells the Hong Kong public to pay attention to personal hygiene and prevent the spread of Sars.

Listen to the advice, of course, but why make things worse by panicking too?

'Symptoms of panic can feel frightening, but they are not dangerous or harmful,' says information on the Anxiety Disorders Association of America (ADAA) Web site -

Another site - - says: '..humans are wired to react in a certain way when faced with a real or perceived threat.

'It can be traced back to times when seeing a tiger in the wild told ancient man to run, and run fast.

'Thoughts are focused on the search for the threat, maintaining alertness and vigilance.'

If you suffer panic symptoms, you may feel so anxious that you think you need to flee Hong Kong. Panic symptoms spread easily, and cause confusion and poor judgment.

Here are some methods for coping with panic, as recommended by the ADAA:

'Remember that although your feelings and symptoms are very frightening, they are not dangerous or harmful.

'Understand that what you are experiencing is just an exaggeration of your normal bodily reactions to stress.

'Do not fight your feelings or try to wish them away. The more you are willing to face them, the less intense they will become.

'Do not add to your panic by thinking about what might happen. If you find yourself asking, 'What if?', tell yourself 'So what!'.

'Stay in the present. Notice what is really happening to you as opposed to what you think might happen.

'Label your fear level from zero to 10 and note how it goes up and down. Notice that it stays at a very high level for a relatively short time.

'When you find yourself thinking about the fear, change your 'What if' thinking. Focus on and carry out a simple and manage-

able task.

'Notice that when you stop adding frightening thoughts to your fear, it begins to fade.