This was a big problem for me. It tended to come and go during the period I suffered from panic attacks and anxiety. I would find I had my good days and bad days.
I can assure you there are techniques that can help you overcome this, and can be done inconspicuously at work or in public situations. For example undertaking deep breathing, challenging your symptoms, doing maths problems in your head, chat with a co-worker, eating a apple, take a break, sing along to your favourite song, etc.
The key to changing your fearful perception of social situations can be found in my eBook. The main problem is that you fear the situations before you even enter them. This is often known as anticipation anxiety. True change lies in the fact that you can alter your perception of these situations- which I can assure you that you can.
Before hand I would certainly stack the cards in your favour by doing everything you can to make sure your mind and body is stable before you enter a situation where you might be anxious. You may be aware that what eat and drink has a marked impact on how your body functions. So what you need to do is eat healthy, nutritious food to stabilize your body. If you enter a social situation after a long day at work after skipping lunch you are asking for trouble. Similarly if you have 4 cups of strong coffee before hand, this could induce panic like symptoms.
Exercise can also help. After work I like to go down the gym, go for a jog or walk my dog. This has the benefit of producing the feel good chemicals and burning off the panic inducing chemicals which may have built up during the day. It also makes you feel hungry afterwards, which is great if you’re sitting down for a meal with friends.
If your not practising relaxation then your missing a valuable tool that can help you. We all have to deal with difficult customers and awkward situations. If you can stay calm and focus on the matter in hand it can make such a difference. Relaxation is not something you can just turn on when you need it. It requires practice when your really calm. The last thing before you go to bed at night is quite a good time. Once you mastered the technique of relaxation and controlling your breathing you can practice it for 5-10 mins every few hours. It's important that you ‘check in’ on your panic levels especially when they are at lower levels, because its easier to control at lower levels. The higher the levels your anxieties are, the more difficult it is to bring it under control, especially without people noticing! Without challenging anxiety it can sometimes reach panic levels which will be much harder to calm your self down and you are reinforcing your body’s flight or fight response.
Go in with the correct attitude. If you have a social engagement and you have already decided that you are not looking forward to it, then you are not likely to have a good time. Be positive and actively go to enjoy yourself. A good tool to have is when you sit and relax is to imagine the social situation. For example if somebody is leaving work and your going for after work drinks to say goodbye, image what you are going to say to that person. Think of how they have helped you at work and how grateful you are to have known them. If nothing else it will save you having to think of something on the spur of the moment.
First aid for social situations
If you’re experiencing the first sensations of a panic attack do not speak negatively to yourself. Those ‘what if’ questions like – What if a make a fool of myself, What if I collapse when I feel faint, etc are not helpful. Fully accept the feelings and stand your ground. Remind yourself they are completely harmless and its your mind playing tricks on you. If the feeling are really intense then take a break and go and splash water on your face in the toilet. If helpful jog on the spot in the toilet cubicle and wave you arms about. Its what your body wants to do – burn energy.
When you in a situation one of the key elements is to distract yourself.
Count back from one hundred.
Think about your favourite holiday and what you did. Image walking along the beach with the sand in-between your toes. Image the smell of the sea as you walk along the beach. The more vivid the distraction the better.
Think of stroking your favourite pet. What does it look like?
Humm your favourite song
The ways you can distract yourself are endless...........
‘Learn the art of patience. Apply discipline to your thoughts when they become anxious over the outcome of a goal. Impatience breeds anxiety, fear, discouragement and failure. Patience creates confidence, decisiveness, and a rational outlook, which eventually leads to success.’ – Brian Adams
It’s always best to gain confidence slowly by building up your self-esteem when you have to deal with low-level social situations. Once this is mastered build up to much more demanding things. Think about how these concepts apply to you and how you can apply them into your daily life. We are all unique and you may fine certain tools work best for you than others.
Some people often say that there anxious thoughts get worse rather than better when they try to challenge them. This is perfectly normal and the road to recovery is not a race. Some days will be good some will be bad. Remember your thoughts are habitual and its going to take time to change them. If you find today you are losing the battle just accept this and try and stay as calm and relaxed possible. The thoughts will not last forever. If you can write the anxious thoughts down and challenge them when you are more calm, this will help. Remember its you that has created these thoughts and you have the complete power to change them.
Persevere, and I promise you will see change. THE POWER IS WITHIN YOU TO RECLAIM YOUR LIFE BACK.
“The fears that assault us are mostly simple anxieties about social skills, about intimacy, about likeableness, or about performance. We need not give emotional food or charge to these fears or become attached to them. We don’t even have to shame ourselves for having these fears. Simply ask your fears, “What are you trying to teach me?” Some say that FEAR is merely an acronym for “False Evidence Appearing Real.” Richard Rohr
Every individual is different and people experience different symptoms when suffering from anxiety and panic, but there are common things that happen to the physiology of the body.
Before and during a panic attack there is a clear pattern which emerges when a person is experiencing the different stages of panic. An individual’s thoughts trigger physical symptoms and this effects a person’s actions. When an attack takes place there are many scary sensations which happen. If you are reading this then you may have experienced these for yourself they include-
• You will feel your heart beating rapidly which is often accompanied by skipping beats or having 'palpitations'. This is particularly unpleasant sensation and can often lead to negative thoughts such as ‘Am I going to have a heart attack or ‘Is my heart going to stop’. • Peoples breathing rate will increase which is often what causes the palpitations as the fight or fight response ‘kicks in’ and adrenaline is pumped around the body system. • Sometimes there is a feeling that you need more air and you will be constantly over breathing (hyperventilation) even in an anxiety state. This is again a very uncomfortable sensation and it leaves the body tense and unable to relax. • Headaches, tension in the chest, or pains in other places are another common symptom. Basically when the body panics, a person’s muscles tense up. Often there will be a feeling of tightness around the brow of the sufferers head like someone has placed a metal bar around their head. A person in this state would not be able to think clearly as the mind shuts down just wanting them to escape from a situation. • Tightness in the throat and not being able to swallow properly are very common. This is simply your body not wanting to perform unnecessary actions such as eating when it perceives you should be protecting yourself and escaping. When a person has reached a very high anxiety state they can often lose weight as they have a low appetite and they burn lots of energy being in a high state of panic. • Being that a sufferer’s body is not in sync and they have lots of nervous energy, people often find they need to go to the toilet more. • A feeling of wanting to be sick can sometimes be felt. As the body is under stress this feeling can happen and is often felt just by normal people minutes before an exam or their wedding! • A feeling of dizziness or that your legs may give way. Again this is just your body sending you fake signals to fight or flight. • Tingling or numbness in the hands, fingers and lips can happen and this ties into the whole flight or fight response as the body shuts down the blood supply to the unnecessary part of the bodies. • Trembling or shaking often incurs when a panic attack is at its worse. This is simply adrenaline and nervous energy kicking in with the individual unable to burn off the energy supplied by the body. • Sweating or hot flushes are often experienced by the sufferer – again an adrenaline/stress response. • Weird sensations can develop such as a sense you are no longer in your body and that you are almost detached looking down on the situation. This is a tired mind again playing tricks on you.
People in a high anxiety state can also be very sensitive to light such as TV’s and undertaking visual activities such as reading can sometime trigger panicky feelings.
The above list is some of the most common sensations but we are all different and we will experience symptoms which may or may not fit a standard. The important thing is to visit a doctor and have a thorough examination to make sure no physical issues are causing these problems. Once the Doctor has told you there is nothing physically wrong, you then have to BELIEVE nothing is wrong and then you can start to recover and heal yourself.
Your thoughts are really the key to this. It’s your thoughts that are making you ill. When a panic attack happens, there is a tendency to think the worst and think something bad will happen. A person can have numerous fears that can set the cycle of panic in motion below are just a few -
-The pain in my chest must mean I’m having a heart attack -My legs are wobbly I’m sure I will faint -The tightness in my body means I can’t breathe and suffocate -I can’t think straight I must be going mad -I going to do something completely stupid and make a fool of myself
The reality is none of these things happen and you survive to make another day. Panic attacks sufferers can have this cycle of panic several times a day over many years but apart from feeling awful nothing worse than that actually happens. To the person experiencing the attack the whole episode is frightening, and it’s difficult for a friend or relative to comprehend how scared their feeling.
THE SYMPTOMS YOU MAY EXPERIENCE DURING A PANIC ATTACK
Resources that will help
Books Self Help for Your Nerves: Learn to relax and enjoy life again by overcoming stress and fearOne of the first books I read on panic attacks and still one of the best. I would say if your going to read any book first, read this one. First published in the 1960's its been updated many times, but some of the best modern-day books still have the same principles running through them. For first aid for a panic attack this is still the best book out there in my opinion. For a programme for recovery its not the best as we know far more on what contributes to panic attacks and how to cure them. For its time its was revoloutionary. Claire Weeks has sadly passed away but she did recordings and other books as well - Click Here.
Relaxtion / Hypnosis Cd's - Contrary to what they claim should be used as a relaxation aid rather than any quick fix Thoroughly recommend you read through the description of the Cd to make sure you know what they contain. Some techniques may work better than others for you, so taylor them to suit your needs.
Hypnosis Cd for Panic and Anxiety Attacks A very good hypnosis Cd thats especially produced for panic attack sufferers. The more you use it and apply the techniques the more benefit you will get. Control Stress : Stop Worrying and Feel Good Now I have included this in the Cd section but the bulk of the information is in a book format. Paul Mckenna is one of the most famous hypnotists, and this book/Cd gives sound practical advice on decreasing stress. The book has lots of techniques and tips which need to be applied and can bring a sense of reality when you might start thinking negative thoughts.
Glen Harrold hypnosis cdsGlenn Harrold has produced lots of different Cd's from weight loss to inner clam. They certainly helped me in my recovery and I would recommend them fully. If you click on the link you can search through the Cd's he has produced and see if any catch your fancy.
Ultimate Relaxation A guided meditation by the well known Dr Hilary Jones (you have probably seen him on morning TV). Contains tips and techniques on relaxation.
Dream Surf If you like the sound of the ocean then this will be the Cd for you.
You can find some FREE meditation and relaxtions audios at excelatlife
If you want to record your own relaxation recordings then I have relaxation scripts/exercises you can record yourself. I good way to do this is record them on your mobile phone and listen to the exercises when you need to.
Hypoglycemia is a condition that occurs when your blood sugar (glucose) is too low. Panic attacks can be caused by this. Whether you have the condition or not its so impotatnt to keep your blood sugars stable to feel well. Too much sugar and you may feel great for a while, then the crash. Diet is one of the must under-rated aspects of getting better and reducing the horrible symptoms of anxiety.
As part of my programme of recovery I strongly recommend that you remove caffine from your diet completely. That means no tea or coffee. I personally think a great substitute is Chamomile (calming properties) or Peppermint tea. If you buy from supermarkets it tends to be quite expensive. If you would like to buy in bulk then I would suggest Twinings Pure Camomile
and Pure Peppermint tea
If you suffer from palpitations some people recommend Pukka Clean Greens Powder - Organic Bio Nutrients - 120g Powder
(I have not actually tried it myself). It comes in capsules as well but the powder is better value for money - 1 months supply for £25. Apparently it does not taste very good so be warned! Amazon seems to be the best price. You probably wonder what it is - its a herbal drink. You mix one tablespoon with a glass of water. Clean Greens contains antioxidants, chlorophyll, vitamins, trace minerals and enzymes, all of which can help you cope better with our polluted environment and diet. When using Clean Greens daily, you should notice improvements in your digestion, skin appearance and general wellbeing.
Mutivitamins & Minerals
Sometimes its recommended to take Mutivitamins & Minerals when your run down. Any help you can give your body to improve and cope with the burden of anxiety can only help you recover. I personally took vitamins for a while as I thought this would give my body extra help and a boost to cope with all the stresses placed upon it. If you feel you need that extra help then below are some popular Mutivitamins & Minerals tablets -
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