If you are struggling with panic attacks or feelings of anxiety, there is hope for complete healing. In this post, we will outline why these symptoms typically occur, and offer some strategies that can help you along the way while you learn how to regain your former healthy self.
The Root of Anxiety and Panic Attacks
Of course, every person has a unique set of experiences throughout their life and the root causes of their anxiety issues will be different for every individual. However, a common cause of anxiety and/or panic attacks may be some type of childhood trauma, whether the trauma stems from physical or sexual abuse, family dysfunction and instability, or some form of childhood neglect. Although childhood issues account for many anxiety issues, in some cases it is not necessarily a significant factor. Some people report a stable childhood but experience some type of serious trauma later in life in the form of some type of violent physical abuse, emotional trauma, or another event that was traumatic in some way.
Genetic Causes of Anxiety Disorders
Although a specific gene hasn't been isolated, it's thought that genetics can play a role in causing anxiety disorders, or at least for increasing the risk of getting an anxiety disorder. Anxiety disorders and genetics have been shown to be linked through chromosomal irregularities.
Uncovering the Cause Through Counseling
Panic attacks and/or high anxiety levels are uncomfortable enough that it is tempting to focus merely on trying to find band aids such as medication or some other type of distraction to help people pretend their anxiety and panic attacks are gone. Some people may remain in this stage for quite some time. They manage to cope with their anxiety, yet they cannot seem to completely eliminate it.
Finding the right counselor that can help uncover the root cause of a person's issues with panic attacks and anxiety is the key in finding complete recovery from anxiety. It is not necessarily easy to explore and talk about past trauma, however it is a necessary part of the healing process. A good counselor will also be able to offer concrete strategies, otherwise known as cognitive behavioral therapy, on how to cope with anxious times that involve relaxing the body and retraining thoughts. A good counselor may even assign out of session tasks - AKA homework - that a client can do on their own time in order to make progress through the healing process. This homework can range from writing letters to people (but not actually mailing them) to taking up a hobby or engaging in an activity that is pleasurable and relaxing for the client.
There are some things a person can do on their own while working through whatever issues they need to in order to heal from anxiety, and one of them starts with taking good care of the body through good nutritional habits. People who are chronically anxious and/or who deal with panic attacks on a regular basis are overtaxing their nervous system. It is important to support one's nervous system through good habits like avoiding caffeine and excess sugar, both of which stress and deplete the body's nervous system. Taking a daily, good-quality B vitamin complex pill is an excellent idea, since it provides essential vitamins required by the body's nervous system in order to function properly.
If at all possible, people suffering from anxiety should try to find ways to at least temporarily remove excess stress from their life. If you are facing big challenges like trying to finish up school while working full-time, building a new home, or starting a business -- consider postponing these big projects until you feel ready to tackle them later on. Now is the time to be kind to yourself and focus on healing and relaxation. Practical things like taking a hot bath can relax tense muscles. Listening to beautiful music helps a person to focus on something pleasant rather than their own negative self-talk. Engaging in a positive activity that brings a person pleasure and allows one to feel joyful, helps to counteract the stress and negativity from anxious feelings. A professional massage is an excellent tool to help a person feel more relaxed, calm and often brings immediate, although temporary relief from intense anxiety.
Anxiety therapy is a treatment approach that helps to analyze and reorganize the thinking patterns that aren't serving you any longer. Whether you experience generalized anxiety, full-blown panic attacks or something in between, anxiety therapy can help you. We are here to work through the underlying thoughts and feelings that trigger the discomfort and transform it into something manageable, even empowering.
There are also many techniques you can practice on your own to alleviate anxiety symptoms. These things can be done anywhere, anytime.
Taking deep, full breaths is a simple step to mitigate the physiological reactions to anxiety. Best practiced when the anxiety is first identified, deep breaths are much easier to initiate before other physical symptoms of anxiety set in. Many people find that a regular meditation practice that fosters an awareness of the breath is also of monumental help.
Staying Grounded in the Present Moment
The next technique explores what is actually happening in the moment, right now. Take a look around and notice your immediate environment. What colors do you see? What shapes? Is there anybody else there with you? Often, our anxiety will take us away from reality. Come back to what is going on.
Staying Present in Your Physical Body
This method is related to #2, but internally focused instead of externally focused. Here, you might first take note of the clothes you are wearing, and their feel on your hands and skin. Taking this a step further, you can extend your attention to within. What sensations do you feel in your body? Perhaps you can feel your pulse or heart beat? Taking note of the miracle of life can frequently prove very grounding.
Limiting Media Influences
People are bombarded with more media influence now than ever before. Often, this translates into collective overwhelm. You may find that turning off the excess noise is of great benefit to your mental health, particularly anxiety. One simple way to start is to limit social media, television, and smartphone use, particularly at night when it's time for bed.
Sing Your Fears
This may sound like a silly suggestion, but just give it a try it and see what happens. Some people find that when they can pause the maelstrom of anxiousness long enough to express their fears through music, it dissolves. This technique works well when the fear is put to a popular tune, and works equally well when put to a melody that you compose right on the spot. No instrument is needed. While the action probably feels ridiculous at first, it just may help. Anxiety is no laughing matter, but you may find this method can lighten the mood.
People who suffer from anxiety would not wish the condition on their worst enemy. But hope is available. These are a few basic things you can begin practicing right now to ease the burden. Over time, your new approach will become habitual, as you set one foot in front of the next on the path to better health.
Recovering From Anxiety
Recovery from anxiety and panic attacks is possible through a multi-pronged approach. Professional counseling can help uncover the real issue(s) in a person's life, bringing about healing, while offering practical cognitive behavioral strategies to help individuals cope along the journey. Anxiety sufferers can help in their own healing by taking good care of themselves both physically and emotionally.
If you want to know more about how to heal from anxiety, please contact me; I'm here to help.