If you have ever had a panic attack then you know just how terrifying it can be as well as feeling utterly powerless when it begins to sweep in. What is happening on a basic level is somehow the Limbic System which is the survival and emotional centre of the brain is over firing and acting as if you are in extreme danger and cannot escape. Very common on public transport, social or work situations as this is where people feel they are being watched or stuck in a situation where they cannot simply get out of there. Heart beat increases, breathing feels more difficult or out of control, chest pain or tightness can be experienced, nausea or dizziness can kick in, hot and cold sweats can appear and derealisation which feels like becoming detached from ones self can make reality feel very strange. As panic attacks often make no sense anyone experiencing them can feel like they are going mad! As one client said to me “How come I can go half way across the world to Thailand ok but not pop into Sainsburys without feeling like I’m going to die?”
It’s very common for a commuter to feel ill on packed train and worry about what would happen if they were sick in front of other passengers. The worry can intensify due to the feelings and scenarios the mind is predicting could happen and now the Limbic System begins to treat commuting as a danger. Panic can begin to set in before the journey or during when any strange sensations are interpreted as possibly leading towards feeling ill or anxious as escape is not very easy these feelings can intensify. The more the commuter tries not to think about being sick or anxious the more in tends to increase, try not to think of a pig and you will fail as the mind has to check you are not thinking about the pig by thinking of the pig. (We have crazy minds!) The same goes for negative worrying thoughts, trying not to think about them can lead to thinking about them even more. It’s a horrible trap to get into but it change if you learn some simple mind management techniques.
Having therapy done to you will not help you become more confident in handling your mind in your life. Learning strategies to see, feel and hear your life differently can help your mind feel more relaxed in being able to handle what comes your way.
First you have to see your GP as there could be a medical reason for your panic attacks.
Learning to breathe properly is a good start as many don’t breath deeply enough which can increase anxiety, it’s like they are taking sips of breath and holding it. When breathing in your stomach should be inflating not so much your chest, this can make a huge difference to feeling more relaxed.
Simple body movements can be learnt which help rebalance the mind, allow the rational parts to influence the reactive parts and tell the Limbic System that there is no problem.
Clients who chat to themselves inside their heads at a fast rate and high pitch find changing their tone and speed to a slower, deeper more hypnotic voice can take the edge off panic. Panic is about speeding up to try and escape, by beginning to do the opposite through breathing, body movements and inner chat you can begin to slow down and relax more.
You cannot get rid of or fight forcefully change panic, anxiety or negative thoughts this just makes them worse and also trains the Limbic System to be on alert and frightened of anything related to them. Learning simple but effective mind management skills can help you work with panic and anxiety in a way which reduces them to the point of no longer having so much power over you. They reduce and over time can be forgotten about. I know this from personal experience, it’s only by working with clients that I remember experiencing what they were like.
Learning Self Hypnosis can help you create physical triggers such as pressing a thumb and finger together which tells the subconscious to relax and let go of the irrational fears. You can also in this state help the mind see experiences from the past in different ways so they no longer create freeze, fight or flight reactions.
Fear is a powerful weapon designed to keep you safer, if the Limbic System is under pressure from ill health, work, drugs, life style choices, relationship issues etc then it will act in irrational ways to keep you avoiding anything it perceives as dangerous. Life’s too short to be held back like this so invest some time in learning the skills to be more pro-active instead of being reactive to your mind.