Are any of these anxiety or panic experiences familiar to you?
- When you drive do you feel anxiety building when stuck in traffic, on a bridge, in a tunnel or at traffic lights ?
- Do you ever feel nervous and afraid you might lose control ?
- Have you struggled with anxious thoughts that simply won’t stop?
- Do you ever feel uncomfortable in enclosed spaces such as supermarkets, cinemas, public transport or even sitting in a café or restaurant?
- Are you nervous and on edge some or most of the time?
Do you feel any of the following bodily sensations?
- Dizzy spells leading to panic
- Tightness in throat and chest- shortness of breath
- Hot flushes followed by waves of anxiety
- Obsessive worries and unwanted thoughts
- Not feeling connected to what is going on around you
- Overwhelming fear that the anxiety will push you over the edge?
These and other similar uncomfortable sensations are all too common but the truth is you do not have to ever suffer from another panic attack or anxiety attack again.
Let me explain
Most of the people I deal with have been struggling with anxiety disorders for many years and have usually exhausted themselves looking for a solution in every book, course, or treatment programme available.
By the time they get to me, they are very sceptical (as is natural) and have little faith in ever getting rid of their condition.
What causes an attack of anxiety?
Anxiety by itself is NOT dangerous to your health. Your life isn’t at risk just from anxiety or panic. This information will help you formulate a plan to manage your panic attacks; you will no longer find that they are running your life.
So exactly what are anxiety attacks?
Anxiety is the state of fear from the anticipation of a real or imagined threat, event or situation. Anxiety is one of the most common emotions experienced by most of us at any time in our lives. However, most people don’t experience a panic attack or an anxiety attack.
And that is why most people don’t realise the depth of the terrifying fears from the experience. You know… the extreme dizziness… blurred vision… tingling… shortness of breath… tension in parts of your body… trembling and wobbly legs… and many more symptoms.
But even if you do have panic or anxiety attacks you probably don’t understand why something is happening to you. You and your loved ones may, quite naturally, misinterpret the symptoms as an illness or serious mental condition. However, what you are feeling is real. You are feeling a loss of control and that can be quite terrifying.
Fight or Flight Response…is this the underlying cause of a panic attack?
Our ancestors survived their world thanks to the ‘fight or flight response’ and this life saving response remains in our brains today. In essence, this means that we will either fight or flee from danger. Anxiety is a form of response to the threat – real or imagined.
The purpose of worry or stress (anxiety) is to protect you from harm. Perhaps this is the reason why some people think a panic attack causes harm, but nothing could be further from the truth.
For our cave dwelling ancestors, the fight or flight response was very important for their daily survival – when they faced danger their bodies had to generate an automatic response to that danger, and they had to respond immediately by running away or standing to fight.
There are still times in today’s modern world when we are pretty relieved we still have this ability – you can probably think back to times when you experienced this ‘fight or flight’ response in an appropriately potentially dangerous situation, a situation when you had to respond to a real threat within a split second!
Anxiety is a built-in mechanism, designed to protect us from harm. It is not meant to harm us. Your body’s primary goal is to keep you alive and well. Your unconscious mind does all it can to keep you from harm. The purpose of your unconscious mind is to keep you alive.
If you were to hold your breath for as long as you can, you’ll find that irrespective of your willpower, eventually, your body will override it. No matter how much or how hard you try to convince yourself that you are going to die during a panic attack… your body is going to override that fear and come back to a state of equilibrium.
Nowadays, people are rarely in the presence of life-threatening events and yet people still suffer with an anxiety and / or panic attack. In the modern world we are subjected to job insecurity, a constant requirement for money to pay the bills and buy food, pay the mortgage, pay for holidays and save for retirement. Just the fact that we are not in charge of building our own home, growing our own food or gathering our own fuel can be stressful. We live in concentrated populations, often surrounded by strangers and in this stressful modern world our subconscious mind works to protect us.
Day by day these stresses can build up, progressively rising resulting in raised general anxiety levels. It does not matter if it is a single event (like meeting a polar bear) or a series of smaller fearful happenings cause the level to rise. As soon as the level reaches what is seen by the brain as ‘danger-level’ then the survival, ‘fight or flight’ response will be triggered. Our subconscious mind will keep us in a negative trance state, suppress the immune system and when this happens, we lose intellectual control of our responses and begin to suffer in many emotional and physical ways.
So try to remember this next time you have a panic attack, you will not be harmed. It is just your mind creating the sensations that you feel all over your body. Eventually, your body will return to its natural balanced state. Our bodies are not worried about the panic attacks. Our bodies know that eventually, everything goes back to normal. However, our minds – that’s something else of course.
Our minds go into overload and freefall. We fear the worst, exaggerating our body’s responses, we are catastrophising and our bodies temporarily change; we are in ‘fight or flight’ mode.
For example, in preparation of that impending physical attack, our blood drains from the skin, fingers and toes (so less blood is lost during battle contact) and this blood is moved to flush the muscle in the legs and arms to help our bodies either fight or run away from danger! This is why we can feel tingling and numbness during anxiety attacks which we can misdiagnose as a heart attack.
However, be sure to be checked by your GP. Make sure your GP gives you a physical check up; get yourself fully checked over to find out if anything really is wrong. Getting a clean bill of physical health will put your mind at rest.
How to stop a panic attack
Generally, we are more concerned about losing control of our bodies than anything else, however that is not likely. What you should do is learn how to deal with the moment and defuse the panic attack along with the underlying anxiety that sparked the initial anxiety in the first place.
Now that you are beginning to understand anxiety attacks, there are some steps that you can take to help you totally eliminate them and live a normal life again.
What You Can Do to Cope or Eliminate Stress…
For some of us, just breathing practice can calm the mind. Breathing is very natural, so natural we don’t even think about it.
But doctors have said that breathing fully and completely does help the body relax its nervous system and this is a big factor in helping you to regain control.
As a quick fix, you can try 7:3:11 breathing. Breathe in for a count of 7. Saying the word ‘relax’, and hold your breath for the count of 3. Then fully empty out your lungs by breathing out for the count of 11 and as you do this, say the words ‘let go’. Just doing this three to five times can make a big difference and you can do it anywhere, anytime. You are regaining Intellectual control by doing these exercises.
From time to time you’ll hear that we really don’t need that much sleep. Most of us really need a good 7-8 hours most nights. The lack of good sleep can have a drastic effect on your mental health.
The brain is a ‘solution-based’ organism, part of man’s development programme has been to get a reward for being positive in life. These are the times that we feel well, feel calm and even excited about the future. When our minds are working in successful solution based mode part of our nightly sleep will be REM (rapid eye movement). Part of the REM period of sleep is given over to finding solutions to life’s problems. This is why we need the 7-8hrs each night. Of this time about 20% is REM sleep and the remainder for the body to generally rest and repair itself.
Getting enough sleep is vitally important to help you maintain good mental and physical health.
Trance is useful and essential because when we are in the trance state we can hand things over to the subconscious mind. We can then when we want to perform an automatic function. This leaves us room to think about other things. For example, when we drive a car this tends to be generally an automatic response monitored by our subconscious mind. Leaving our conscious mind to concentrate on the unexpected and changing situations around us. The automatic part of us is then in trance state – how useful that is when an emergency stop is required!
The subconscious mind is designed to react to our emotions. When we imagine a threat, we react to that thought emotionally. Immediately our subconscious mind will come to our rescue. It springs into action with the ‘fight or flight’ response – this is when your anxiety attack can happen.
Symptoms of negative trance state can be broken. They can happen if our overall stress levels drop sufficiently below the danger level. Or, when a therapist intervenes effectively with positive trance states.
The primary goal of hypnotherapy is to promote good thoughts, feelings and behaviours. Assisting you in your return to a state of comfort or pleasure. This in turn relieves the emotional and physical pain of the stresses that began the problem. Reducing the level of anxiety that has been sparking the attacks.