If You Suffer From Anxiety or Panic Attacks, This may Help
They can be truly frightening, confusing, and leave you fearful of having another one.
If left untreated, some people find that with their heightened anxiety, their panic attacks can increase in frequency, and impact on their day-to-day life.
Learning to manage severe anxiety or panic attacks may be something you have sought help for – or not.
In the midst of a panic attack, some people fear they are going to have a heart attack; there is an intense sense of fear or dread that takes over their mind and body, and they may even fear that they are going to die.
For others, they may worry that they are unable to breathe properly, and fear that they’re going to suffocate.
While for others, they may experience their mind racing with irrational thoughts, or images, and they feel they’re losing control of their sense of self, and may fear they are going crazy, or losing control of their mind.
An individual may be sweating, or physically trembling during an anxiety or panic attack. There are many different experiences that can shape these horrible and daunting episodes.
However, it’s important to understand that a panic attack is caused by a heightened level of anxiety in your mind and body. It is only anxiety – you are NOT going to die, you are NOT going to have a heart attack or suffocate, and you are NOT going crazy (you may like to read this again!).
There are many exercises, techniques or strategies that counsellors and psychologists may recommend (there are various breathing techniques that can be very helpful).
Here is one, very effective way to feel grounded, in the midst of high anxiety, or a panic attack.
Keep your eyes open.
Look around you, and pay attention, closely to everything in your immediate environment.
Use all five of your senses, to get yourself ‘out of your head’, and back down, into reality.
SEE – What can you see? Start in one spot, and use as much description, to tell yourself what you’re looking at (imagine that you are describing this to a blind person).
HEAR – What can you hear around you? If you’re outside, notice the traffic noises, one by one, are there birds tweeting in the trees around you, is there a lawnmower going somewhere near by?
SMELL – What can you smell in your environment? Food being baked, fumes in the traffic? Flowers in the garden?
TASTE – Is there a particular taste in your mouth? Try sucking on a mint or piece of candy, or biting into some chocolate, and really allow yourself to notice the taste.
TOUCH – What are you sitting or lying on? Feel the fabric or material around you with your fingers or bare feet.
Describe these sensations, until you notice you have started to feel less panicky – you are starting to feel yourself again.
The main emphasis of this exercise is to move your mind and focus into your immediate external experience, and away from your anxious or racing thoughts of future-based worry or fear.
If you’ve found this helpful, please share it with someone who may also find it useful.
Wendy Gilroy is a Mother of 2, and a professional Counsellor for women. Wendy has a degree in Psychology, a Masters degree in Addiction Studies, and a Diploma of Counselling. She lives in Sydney, Australia, and offers secure ONLINE counselling for women around the world, as well as telephone, face-to-face and home visit services for mums.
Disclaimer: This is for information purposes only. If you have any concerns about your physical or mental health, please consult your healthcare practitioner for medical advice.