If you've ever suffered the debilitating effects of anxiety, you will probably be aware of just how frightening a full blown panic attack can be.
Heart racing, palpitations, tingling sensations, depersonalisation, chest pains, dry mouth, dizziness etc etc.
The experience is slightly different for everyone but one thing is for sure. It is not a nice feeling.
I can promise you though. There is nothing wrong with you. You are just going through a fight or flight episode. If we live with persistent negative thoughts or constant stress over a long period of time, our sympathetic nervous system (which controls the fight or flight response) becomes a little bit trigger happy.
Our bodies start flooding with adreniline on a daily basis. From an evolutionary point of view this would have had beneficial effects for our distant ancestors who would have needed extra adreniline in times of peril to escape from or fight against any potential danger.
Nowadays however there is unlikely to be any sabre-toothed tigers lurking around your local neighbourhood, so the need for all this extra adreniline is unwanted. In fact our nervous systems haven't caught up with 21st century living. Financial issues, moving house, changing jobs, relationship problems are all capable of triggering the same stress response as seeing a sabre-toothed tiger.
When you experience all the symptoms of the fight or flight response without actually seeing any physical danger, your mind and body enter into an extremely uncomfortable series of thoughts and sensations. Extremely uncomfortable, but completely harmless. I want you to remember that phrase so i'll say it again "TOTALLY HARMLESS". If you've ever experienced anxiety or panic attacks you will know that when you have had your first one you become absolutely petrified of having your next one. This is what fuels the anxiety. Anxiety attacks become more and more regular.
We then find ourselves in a seemingly endless loop of anxiety. We literally become fearful of fear itself. As i already mentioned anxiety needs fuel to persist. That fuel is "fear itself". When you realise that anxiety is TOTALLY HARMLESS you have already taken the first step towards recovery.
The next step is to accept those uncomfortable sensations and allow them to be present in your body and mind. Don't fight against them. Don't try to fight them. All this does is fuel them by adding fear to them. This might seem counter productive but trust me this is how you will free yourself from your panic attacks.
In fact, as well as accepting those uncomfortable sensations, i want you to challenge them to get worse. Actually challenge them in your head by saying something like "Is this all you've got?" "Come on i challenge you to get even stronger".
When you do this you will actually destroy the panic attack from it's very heart. The panic attack is fuelled by and fed by your intense fear. When you understand and accept what is fuelling the panic attack and challenge it to get worse you will feel it lose it's intensity and gradually fade away with nothing to feed it.
Keep doing this every time you get a panic attack and read my grounding excercise too. You can download this now. The way to defeat anxiety is to cut off it's fuel supply.
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