When you deal with anxiety and panic, it seems like you are being taken over by your body and brain. It may feel like you have no control over what is happening and that is a terrible feeling.
I’ve dealt with panic since I was 19 years old. At that time, information on this topic was limited and my doctor threw his hands up and said he didn’t know what was wrong with me. I was send to the hospital to take an EKG and they put me on heart medication.
That didn’t help. It became worse yet.
I felt alone, misunderstood, embarrassed, weak and confused. What was wrong with me? Why was I unable to breathe at times and how did this start? Was I having a heart attack? Was I dying? I ended up in the emergency room many times and left more confused every time. Nobody had answers for me. It was a mystery.
I searched high and low for my own answers. I came upon Lucinda Bassett’s cassette tape program that dealt with the same issues I was experiencing.
Finally! Someone had answers and a way to understand what to do in the midst of an attack. I didn’t want to be a victim anymore and completed her program, feeling more in tune with what was happening and why I was suffering these issues.
But that alone, didn’t help me recover completely. It was at that time I had my third child and family issues were at an all time high. My body was fueled with stress, hormones and depression. I was a mess.
I can’t tell you for sure what helped me start to see the light at the end of the tunnel, but I had epiphanies and found information that gave me new hope and a new freedom. Funny that at this time, I finally went to a therapist and poured my heart out. I thought he might act like all the doctors that I had seen over the years, but he looked at me with a different expression.
What was it? I hadn’t seen it before. It seemed like compassion. Why had nobody ever treated me like this was a real problem? I realized that over the many years that I suffered, I was met with complete lack of care and understanding. It made me feel more alone than ever and only exacerbated the anxieties and disarray. With this look of care and understanding and compassion….I instantly felt my mind and my body relax.
He then said something to me I will never forget for the rest of my days. I actually get emotional each time I remember that moment because it was a break in my struggles. He said to me,
“You are a strong woman to have dealt with what you’ve gone through.”
That was it. I felt like a wave of healing powers had entered my body. This was amazing!!
Now I’m not saying that it was as easy as his understanding look and words that helped me through the worst of it, but it was definitely the first chapter. And that, after almost 15 years of not knowing and fears of the unknowns, was a miracle to me!
He prescribed me medication and some simple steps to begin the process of healing. This, my friend, is what I am sharing with you today in hopes it gives you a first step and some hope of a way out. Don’t lose hope, please. There is always hope and there is always someone who cares that you are going through this.
I learned that those of us who suffer from anxiety and depression are; above average in intelligence, highly creative, have amazing imaginations and are detail oriented and analytical. The downside of these are that we over analyze, over stress, over intellectualize, imagine the worst case scenarios in every situation concerning our fears, and create thought mazes we cannot get out of.
Knowing this alone, is a major step in clarity and understanding what we are dealing with instead of fear of not knowing and thinking like a victim. The steps below are critical to your daily habits at the start. As you read above, we are over thinkers and over achievers and this only compounds our stresses and anxieties. The first phase is to get laser beam focused on what needs to be done now…and let the rest go. You will have time to get back to those when you are feeling “well” again.
- Create a daily list of no more than 5-10 things that must be done that day. Nothing more, less is optimal.
- Do things every day in order of importance. Don’t worry about perfection; consistency and moving forward is where your focus should be in this phase.
- Do things with focus and a reason, instead of just haphazardly and mindlessly. Put your phones down, stop scrolling the internet and take time to BE.
- Think before you take any action.
- Move slowly and calm down every time you feel your body and/or mind racing. You are not in a race.
- Practice writing down your feelings and thoughts for at least a week or two. Notice the patterns and issues that start to create stress in your body.
- Find a way to deal with rising tension in your body as you start to take notice. When we move slower, we are then able to see what is happening before it becomes a full blown attack. Find a safe hideaway and just notice your breath. Don’t try to analyze how to breathe or what you think is happening in your body..just know you are going to be okay (because you truly are!) and watch your breath as you slow it down and allow it to move in and out like the ocean waves on the shore.
- Read or listen to audio books on topics that relate to the mindset. Read, “What to say when you talk to yourself”, “Think Better, Live Better”, “The Power of Habit”, Eliminating Stress, Finding Inner Peace”, As a Man Thinketh”, “Life was Never Meant to be a Struggle” and “How to Be Happy”. There are countless books and audiobooks on this topic and I suggest you keep learning and growing with new information every single week, month and year. (I read at least 10 minutes every day and take action on what I read immediately. It truly starts to change the way we think and how we react).
- Find a therapist to work through issues that are out of your control. Many of us have deep, dark experiences, painful pasts and areas of stress that are out of our control. Find a professional to help you work through some major huddles and you’ll notice that you gain more confidence in knowledge of your mental and emotional battles.
- Become your biggest cheerleader. It may sound cheesy, but you’ll have to create a mantra that helps you out of negative mindsets. I am known to say to myself (and I’ve said this to my clients and my classes all the time), “You’re OKAY!” I say this repeatedly when I am feeling like negativity and anxiety are seeping in. I relax my shoulders, smile to myself and focus on my breath. Reminding ourselves that we can only control what we think in the moment, the rest is truly out of our control and deciding we are going to be “OK” with this fact.
These steps are meant as a starting point. You may find another way altogether that helps you move forward but as I mentioned before, you are not alone and you definitely matter so start with the areas you can manage today and add another as you feel ready to. Don’t wait for panic to take over again before you take action…start now and make sure to let me know how you feel or if you have questions about the information above.
Next up: we will learn how to breathe like we were meant to breathe…do you EVEN breathe right??