If you suffer from anxiety and panic attacks, no one will be able to convince you that attacks don't occur out of the blue. One minute you're fine, and the next your world is spinning out of control, and you have no idea why. You weren't stressed. You weren't worried. You didn't even feel anxious. So why is this happening again?
I know from personal experience that attacks can occur out of the blue. One of the worse attacks I had happened when I least expected it, and took me down for four days. Understanding why this happened, and how I was in control of it, was the turning point for me.
While you might not feel like you were nervous or worried, if an attack comes from out of the blue, you probably were, and have been for a number of days. Anxiety and panic attacks occur because of an overwhelmed nervous system. You send your body constant signals via your thoughts, and while your thoughts appear to be your comfort zones, they aren't always comfortable or healthy. Becoming consciously aware of these thoughts can help you change them so they're healthy and productive. Recognizing your stress triggers will help you minimize the overwhelming thought patterns that lead to uncomfortable physical symptoms. But you have to become consciously aware of them. So wake up, and take control. It's not healthy or productive to run on autopilot.
Out of the blue attacks do occur, and there's always a reason for their sudden appearance. So how do you handle an attack you weren't prepared for? The number one issue in dealing with an attack, out of the blue or otherwise, is to remain calm. Reacting in fear will add to the attack. It causes your fight or flight reaction to go into overdrive. The more you fear an attack, the worse it will become. So stay calm. Anxiety attacks cannot hurt you. They can make you feel physical and emotional sensations that are uncomfortable and frightening, but all the symptoms of an anxiety or panic attack are normal reactions your body automatically responds to during times of stress. If you're afraid of the symptoms, your body will focus on them, and make them worse.
How many times have your worked through an attack, only to feel like yourself again after the attack subsides? The answer is easy: ALWAYS! Attacks do not last forever. They have a beginning, a peak, and a coming down phase. So do your body a favor and remain calm. Know it will end. If you don't remain calm, you will continue to spike yourself over and over again. When your body spikes, it shoots adrenaline into your blood stream, and that effects physical and emotional aspects of your personality. You won't feel like yourself again until the adrenaline is purged. So stay calm during an attack... this can't be stressed enough!
Another way to handle out of the blue attacks is to breathe. Breathing and remaining calm are major factors in dealing with attacks. The two go hand in hand. I have yet to have an attack that these two factors didn't stop dead in its tracks. It works! Stay calm and do proper breathing techniques. Proper breathing stimulates the parasympathetic nervous system, and if you allow it to, will naturally calm you down without the use of medications. The 5th article in this series will focus on proper breathing, its benefits, and how to do it.
One of the things not to do during an attack is try to figure out what caused it. By dwelling on this, you're causing more symptoms to compound. Work through the attack, calm yourself down, and when you're feeling better, sit down and figure out what's causing your stress. During an attack is not the time to do this.
If you're in a crowd when an attack hits, find a place where you can be alone. And yes, it is possible. There are very few situations in life that you can't simply get up and walk away from. Go sit in a bathroom stall if you need to. Just remain calm and breathe.
Distraction is another good method. Find something to read. Count by twos. Count backwards from 100. Close your eyes and visualize a peaceful setting. Tell yourself you're safe. Your body will react to what your mind thinks, and your mind can only focus on one thing at a time, so make your thoughts productive. You will know what works and what doesn't by the way it makes you feel. If it's causing more stress, or creating more adrenaline spikes, stop doing it! Change your conscious thinking pattern. Take control! Don't allow anxiety to control you. For women, PMS and menopause can cause anxiety, so this is something else to keep in mind.
Those who suffer from anxiety and panic attacks know out of the blue attacks happen. It's how you react to them that will determine how long they will last and how severe they will be. Remember to stay calm and breathe. Work through it. Your body will naturally relax if you allow it to. Sometimes, our minds can be our worse enemy. So make friends with your thoughts, and take control of the messages you send your body.
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