Jill was a good friend of mine who had been dealing with panic attacks for a few years. Jill had 3 kids, a loving husband, and amazing friends that did everything they could to help her cope with her panic attacks. Sometimes these panic attacks would appear out of nowhere, and other times something would trigger them, either way she lived her life in fear from day to day not knowing when a panic attack would strike next. Jill tried everything from anti-anxiety medications, to herbs, and even antidepressants for sometime. Her greatest success came from the anti-anxiety medications the first few weeks she took them by numbing her physical symptoms related to panic temporarily. Being in an anxious state for years can take a serious physical toll on the body, soon Jill found herself barely being able to complete the simplest physical tasks, decision making was also difficult for Jill but she chugged along doing the best she could everyday at home with her family, and at work. The day came when Jill was so fatigued and tired of her fight with her panic disorder, that she took a few weeks off work to try to get her energy back and rest her tired mind from the difficult tasks of her work days. Chronic fatigue had set in, and when it did a miraculous thing happened, she did not have a single panic attack the next 3 weeks while resting. She now joyfully tells me the story of how her mind actually gave up the fight completely, she was in such a fatigued physical state from all the fighting and fleeing, that her mind and body didn’t have the juice anymore to keep searching for the threats that caused panic attacks, and instead held up a white flag with a sign that said ‘I surrender.’
How was it that someone who suffered for years with panic attacks going from doctor to doctor trying to get answers and solutions, suddenly was able to become relieved of them so quickly? It was truly amazing! The weeks went by and as she made a few simple lifestyle changes, her energy had slowly come back, and she was now free of her panic disorder all together. There is an incredible message here for anyone else that suffers from panic attacks on a regular basis, the message of course is not to completely fatigue yourself in some way, but to notice how powerful your mind is and that in an instant you are fully capable of completely turning off your panic attack switch. Jill mentioned that she still had those physical sensations that accompanied her regular panic attacks for a short while longer, but she had already given up the fight and cut the respect she gave her fears out, ‘no more respect, no more panic’ she told me. She had a new focus during those 3 weeks of rest, her new focus was to rest her tired state so immediately the priorities of her mind changed. It went from focusing on the potential danger in the near future that her anxious symptoms might bring, to focusing on her body getting the rest it needed and deserved.
Anxiety and panic attacks can creep up to you from many different angles, once you overcome one physical symptom of anxiety another one might pop up, but there’s a simple mental imagery technique that I want to share with you that will bring your anxiety levels down quickly. Condition an image in your mind of your greatest fear as a tiny mouse that is following you wherever you go. You can give this mouse a name if you want, but have this image of that cute little mouse as your greatest fear. All this mouse wants is your attention! So tell it over and over again that you don’t have time for it at this very moment. Now imagine the mouse not following you anymore, but instead becoming saddened by this news and being left behind, after this occupy your mind to something else IMMIDIATELY. Whenever you feel the fear creeping up again, have another chat with your mental image of the mouse, and once it’s done continue on your way as the mouse is again left behind. This is powerful when done consistently, remember to completely turn your attention to what you were doing at that time FEELING and KNOWING that your fear has been left behind, and there is no reason to go back to it anymore.
One final message, if you feel that you are not very good at mental imagery don’t give in. In time this will become easy and you will have gained a powerful tool in overcoming your fears right then and there.
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