How tired are you of hearing the same worn out teaching methods for generalized anxiety and panic attacks? You can’t really blame doctors and psychologists I guess, because most of them have never experienced a full blown panic attack or have been though general anxiety hour after hour, day after day. It really does wear a person down physically and emotionally. Let me show you two of the most common ‘coping and hoping’ techniques that you must replace, and what technique you must replace them with when the panic cycle starts.
Coping And Hoping Technique #1) Breathe in through your nose, and out through your mouth.
Imagine you’re at a shopping mall in a line up about to pay for a great shirt you picked out. All of a sudden you feel a palpitation in your heart. ‘What could it be?’ you wonder. Almost instantly a slight dizziness comes over you and your breathing becomes shallow. In this instance, you have two choices. Choice #1 – Use the ‘in through your nose, out through your mouth’ breathing technique that your therapist charged you $125 dollars to teach you during your latest one hour session. Choice #2 – immediately leave the line-up, go to your ‘safe place’ and weather the storm as you frantically try to keep away the evil ‘what if’ thoughts that are trying to take over your mind! You go for Choice #1, because you just wouldn’t be able to deal with ‘the look’ the cashier would give you if you left the shirt and rushed out of the line just as you are about to pay. I mean, how would you ever be able to show your face at that store again? Inevitably, the breathing technique completely fails as you feel an even higher level of self-consciousness, and your body begins to get tighter and tighter. Time to think of a different option or flee!
Coping And Hoping Technique #2) Go to your ‘Happy Place’.
Ok, so you’re still stuck in line and the panicky sensations are getting worse. You suddenly think of the movie ‘The Secret’ and remember how that boy got that magical bike miraculously appearing at his door, just by wanting it to happen so badly! So if you just go to your ‘happy place’, then your mind will forget all the panic you’re going through and you’ll become instantly calm and peaceful again ( I loved that movie, but some parts were a stretch I mean come on). You’ll get that shirt and move on with your day! So you begin to picture a beach with a beautiful young lady or fella feeding you grapes, while you do some affirmations simultaneously ‘I don’t feel panic’, ‘I don’t feel panic.’ Your mind suddenly begins to let you know that it doesn’t understand the lies you’re telling it at that moment, and the adrenaline pumps through your system faster than before with new tingling and other uncomfortable sensations that are leaving you on the brink of feeling like you’re losing complete control!
Things aren’t looking too great at this point and you’re still one person away from paying for that great shirt. You immediately give in to these sensations and leave the shirt and power walk your way to the exit to get some air, and suddenly remember a technique the Anxious Athlete taught you that you haven’t tried before (like how I did that? Boy, I’m clever) but you have gotten to the point of being so fed up from fleeing from your panic attacks, that you go for it!
The 50/150 technique – Just so you know, this technique has been PROVEN to be incredibly powerful for people I work with in turning panic attacks around, so listen carefully. First thing you do is find a wide open space near you, preferably outside in nature. Then, begin a countdown from 50 down to 1, while at the same time taking giant walking steps (1 second between each step). Each step signifies you getting closer and closer to what you fear the most (which in my case was death), and you are living that dreaded moment with each step. Once you get down to 1, you’re going to notice as always that your greatest fear hasn’t come true and you’re alive and well, but your sensations are possibly still the same. Immediately begin increasing your emotions and get to the point of being so fed up, that you actually WANT your greatest fear to come true! Quicken your pace and begin to jog while you count from 1 to 150. Each and every step that you jog (don’t forget to count), you are moving towards what you fear in your mind’s eye (this kind of mental imagery works because you’re no longer hoping for change, you’re taking charge), ask it to show its face to you, get upset inside, keep running and counting letting your fear know that you’re ready for anything. I promise you, this technique, although uncomfortable at first, WILL make your panic attack subside, only if you are fully engaged emotionally and don’t back down from what you fear. When you arrive at your destination, not only will you feel better because you have gotten some exercise (which is always a bonus), but also because your greatest fear did NOT come true and you will have forgotten about your panic attack. Try it the next time you feel your panic sensations creeping in, I promise you it works!!