Panic attacks and the underlying anxiety which causes them, are common. It is estimated that 1 in 6 of us will be affected at sometime in our lives. Periods of mild to moderate anxiety are something we’ve all experienced and perhaps we have our own strategies for dealing with them. It is when anxiety becomes severe and frequent panic attacks become part of the picture, that it is time to seek professional help.
Living with heightened tension affects all areas of our lives interfering with our capacity to work and sleep, having a negative impact on our relationships and confidence and we are not as happy as we want to be.
Panic attacks which are linked to certain experiences such as flying and being in enclosed spaces and chronic generalized anxiety, for which there seems to be no cause, can be the result of a single, frightening event, but more often the cause is a period of prolonged and intense anxiety. In fact, panic attacks can occur months after the stressful period, so that the sudden and mysterious onset can leave the sufferer confused about why it happened. When the exact cause is difficult to pinpoint, the sufferer lives in dread of the same situation recurring. The condition is then reinforced by the fear of having a panic attack.
If you have experienced a panic attack you will know how frightening it is. There is a sudden high level of anxiety. Symptoms include sweating, heart palpitations and chest pain, nausea, dizziness and difficulty in swallowing. Hyperventilating can also be part of the picture.
Your mind has the power to influence and change your negative responses and there are self-help strategies that can lessen the impact of an attack when it is happening. Deep breathing and calming affirmations – e.g “Even though I am having a panic attack, I choose to trust that it will pass quickly and everything will be OK” helps to replace fear with a sense of safety. Tapping on the acupoints whilst saying this affirmation or something similar will help to restore a sense of calm and balance to the nervous system.
Practising creative visualisation techniques daily can help to overcome panic. Breathe slowly and deeply for a few minutes, noting your thoughts and feelings but don’t analyse them or hang on to them, let them go. Now remember a time when you felt calm and in control, a time when everything was happening just the way you wanted it to. Really get into this state – see what you saw, hear what you heard and feel what you felt. Exaggerate and enhance this experience. When the feelings are strong press your thumb and forefinger together to anchor the feelings. The more you do this the stronger the sensations will become until you can access this memory and corresponding feelings just by pressing your thumb and forefinger together. Think how useful this could become when you start to experience any anxiety.
Jocelyn and Kristina at Trance-Formed