We look at treating anxiety like a condition that can go away.
We are not wired for panicking to go away.
Anxiety is here to help. It is here to stay.
The challenge is our fear response is very general.
Our eyes or mind perceive a threat.
It tells our fear centre, the amygdala.
The amygdala is responsible for keeping us safe.
It tells the brain to talk to the body, to release adrenaline and cortisol and initiates a series of reactions that allow our body to get more air, see light more clearly, not to feel pain… all so we can stay alive, if we are in grave danger.
There is truly no difference between scary thoughts (shame, fear, failure, disappointment, heartbreak) that activate our self-protection and running from something scary, when the body is concerned.
So, what do you do?
Accept the physical discomfort
Panic attacks feel uncomfortable. We don’t need ALL of that adrenaline when we’re freaked out about a deadline at work, but here it is.
- Take a breath (or put your head between your knees)
- Drink some water
- Go outside. Being in nature is not airy-fairy – we get more oxygen, we can see light, we can take a breather.
- Tell yourself something comforting. Examples: I am safe, I love _______, I can get through this, I understand this.
Confronting the scary thoughts
- What is happening that we feel fearful? Can we think that we might be having a tough time? Is this our body’s call for support and attention?
- When we see our fears show up, is this recent or is this something that has been building for awhile?
- How do these fears show up? Body sensations? Intrusive thoughts? Oppressing emotions? Are there particular aspects to these fears that are more distressing than others?
We know that panic is to help. Let it be the direction that we follow to get the help we need.
Nourishment of the self.
Kindness to our experience.
Knowing this will pass.
Big hugs to you.