Anxiety is on the rise and more people are seeking ways to stop panic attacks without having to rely on prescription medications. Some of the most popular solutions are mental strategies and natural (herbal) medications.
A panic attack is a very real physical ailment. Most people want you to believe it’s all in your head, but there are physical symptoms that accompany these episodes. Adrenaline floods your bloodstream and a wave of fear overcomes you.
Your body reacts to the adrenaline by increasing blood supply, which makes you feel your heart pounding, your face and body flush, and more. Your mind has to stop the flow of adrenaline in order for the physical symptoms to subside. You have to find a way to control your mind during these episodes or prevent it from occurring completely.
First, you have to relax. Easier said than done when you’re going through a panic attack, right? But to stop panic attacks, you must get your mind and body to a more relaxed state. Deep breathing will help with this.
Some people control panic attacks completely with deep breathing techniques. Try to focus your mind on the reality of the situation – that it’s only a panic attack – nothing more serious.
Breathe as slowly as possible – inhaling through your nose and exhaling through your mouth. Some people are able to hold the inhaled breath for a couple of seconds, which helps to calm your body and mind.
Second, you have to talk yourself through this episode. Your mind is trying to tell you that death is imminent, that the worst is about to happen. Without publicly making a scene, close your eyes (if possible) and tell yourself that this is not an emergency – that you are not going to panic and that you will remain calm.
Continue with the self talk. Most panic attack sufferers keep repeating panicked statements during these episodes. Replace those with something positive. Repeat the reality of the situation to yourself. Instead of, “My heart is about to explode,” say, “I’m only having a surge of adrenaline that’s making my heart beat faster and it will stop as soon as I calm down.”
Take precautionary measures that allow you to have proof that everything’s okay. For instance, meet with your doctor to ensure that your heart is healthy. That way, when you’re having a panic attack and fear that you’re having a heart attack, you can tell yourself, “My doctor said my heart is fine – this is only a panic attack.”
You can stop panic attacks with ease if you learn to work through them. Your mind has a lot of power in controlling these episodes but it’s up to you to learn how to master the techniques that keep anxiety at bay.
The one thing that nobody tells you is that your thoughts and the feelings that follow them happen very rapidly.
Mihalyi Csikszentmihalyi, Ph.D. in his bood FLOW reports that the Central Nervous System (CNS) processes sensory data, which means sounds like tone of voice and visual data like facial expressions in packets of seven bits of data and the shortest amount of time between packets of data is 1/18th second.
It takes us 1/10th second to blink our eyes.
Paul Ekman, Ph.D., who has studied facial expressions for 25 years of so, says that we can respond to a very subtle change in expression in 1/25th second, so it is no wonder that a panic attack feels overwhelming.
It feels like it comes on with no warning.
The good news is that you have handled sudden changes in feelings and thinking tens of thousands of time.
The bad news is that it doesn’t take too many breakdowns in capturing and changing strong emotions for the process to become a habit, so I better have some deep breathing and pleasant thinking tools available for implementation within the heart beat if not the blink of an eye.
Luckily for us there are now some very powerful biofeedback technologies available for use to stop panic attacks.
One that I have used personally and professionally is heart rate variability biofeedback, which is a feel good tool I can use on any heart beat to move my heart rate into a coherent heart beat.
Heart rate variability biofeedback is based on recent discoveries about the heart’s own nervous system that no one knew about 20 years ago.
The long and the short of it is that I can use both CBT and deep breathing with computerized feedback to learn a powerful tool to use when and if a panic attack strikes.
But there is more to heart rate variability biofeedback than just a tool to use in the face of a panic or anger emergency.
Heart rate variability biofeedack is a lifestyle tool that I can implement very frequently in short bursts to help in the anti-aging process, because it changes the hormonal bath inside my body and another very powerful impact is that it activates the higher perceptual centers in my brain for more effective decision making.
Not sure about you, but I like the idea of my brain making effective decisions rather than my emotions.
In fact, the brain fitness gurus are saying that stress management is a key piece of the neurogenesis and neuroplasticity landscape.
Neurogenesis means the growth on new neurons daily, and neuroplasticity describes how those new neurons link together when new learning takes place.
In fact, Alvaro Fernandez, the co-creator of the SharpBrains blog, says that heart rate variability is the best stress management tool on the market.
Well, there you have it, some great ideas and new tools for stopping panic attacks which can work heart beat by heart beat.
Michael S. Logan is a brain fitness expert, a counselor, a student of Chi Gong, and licensed one on one HeartMath provider. I enjoy the spiritual, the mythological, and psychological, and I am a late life father to Shane, 10, and Hannah Marie, 4, whose brains are so amazing. http://www.askmikethecounselor2.com