- My story
- What is panic?
- How does panic work?
- How to get rid of panic
- Change your lifestyle
- Downloadable summary
If you currently suffer from anxiety attacks, or if you had one recently and you are afraid you may experience more soon…
The first thing you need to know is: there is a way to fix this — for good.
Often, panic gives you the impression that you have no control over your body and your mind. I’m here to tell you that you do, and no matter how horrible the attacks feel, no matter how powerless you feel, you can go back to living a normal life.
In the following article I am going to explain what panic attacks are, and the steps to get rid of them. At the end of the article you’ll also find a downloadable summary of everything I went through.
My story (Skip this if you don’t have time)
At some point in my life I was incredibly stressed out.
I was working too much and had unrealistic goals. I was trying to pursue a career path that wasn’t for me. My inner voice was telling me to quit, take some time off, and do something else. But I wouldn’t listen.
Then one night it happened.
I had a nightmare, and suddenly woke up. It was 4am. My heart was beating faster than usual, and I felt particularly anxious. I thought: “it’s okay, I’ll wait for five minutes. As soon as it gets better, I’ll go back to sleep”.
It didn’t get better. After about ten minutes, my heart rate was still the same, and the anxiety was still there. Keep in mind, this had never happened before. Thirty minutes in, I realized this wasn’t normal, and I became really afraid. “What am I supposed to do? Is this dangerous?”
Then it got even worse. My heart started racing. I felt dizzy. I was sweating, and my body temperature suddenly increased (it actually didn’t, but it felt that way). It was so sudden, and so intense, and so scary, I thought I was going to die.
It lasted about ten minutes, then the panic faded away, and I was able to go back to sleep. But it was far from over.
A month later, I had another panic attack. Then another one, and another one. Eventually it got to the point where I was having panic attacks every single day. I couldn’t sleep; I was feeling anxious 24/7; I was terrified it could happen at work, on public transport, or at the grocery store. My life wasn’t the same anymore. I wasn’t the same anymore. I had to change.
I finally decided to talk to a therapist. She specialized in CBT (Cognitive Behavioral Therapy). What she told me was so powerful, I was able to eliminate the attacks almost instantly. I couldn’t believe something so horrible could be healed so quickly, and easily.
I got my life back.
What is panic? (Important)
In order to fix any issue you have in your life, you need clarity. You need to understand what the issue is, why you have it, and how to eliminate it.
So, what is panic?
I was surprised to find out that panic is nothing more than intense anxiety. A panic attack, therefore, could be defined as a sudden period of intense anxiety, or fear. Panic attacks are very common — if you are a sufferer, you are not alone.
Physical symptoms vary from person to person, and may include:
- Racing heart
- Upset stomach
- Shortness of breath
- Cold hands and/or feet
- Hot flashes or chills (usually your body temperature is the same, you just feel different)
Psychological symptoms may include:
- Fear of dying
- Fear of going insane
- Fear of fainting
- Disorientation, confusion
Why is it important to know this?
The main cause of panic attacks is the fear of experiencing one. The second main cause is a mistaken interpretation of the symptoms.
You think it’s dangerous. You think you are going to die. You think there’s nothing you can do about it.
Once you understand that anxiety attacks are uncomfortable, but temporary, and not dangerous at all, you have taken the first and most important step in eliminating them.
You must know, with absolute certainty, that what you are experiencing is not dangerous.
It may be uncomfortable, and it may be the first time in your life that you’re going through this. But you are not going to die; you are not going to lose control, or become insane. Fainting, although possible, is extremely rare (but it’s common to think you are going to faint).
How does panic work?
First of all, let’s have a look at some of the possible triggers:
- Fear of having an attack
- Any environment that makes you feel uncomfortable
- Stressful situations, such as exams or job interviews
- Physical exercise
- Abrupt posture changes
- Negative thoughts
- Low blood sugar
- Digesting a big meal
- Disturbing images or videos
You can find a longer list of the possible triggers here.
Again, those affected by panic mistake their symptoms for something else. The triggers listed above have one thing in common: they change the way you feel, physically and/or mentally.
For example, a crowded place (even a party) might make you feel anxious. Dehydration or low blood sugar might cause dizziness, or lightheadedness. Nightmares or disturbing pictures can cause anxious thoughts. Digesting food or exercising can raise your heart rate.
Now, if you think that the feelings you experience are dangerous, you’re going to feel anxiety. When you feel more anxious, you create more feelings. When you create more feelings, you feel even more anxious, and so on.
This is the vicious cycle of panic. Have a look at this:
So, how do you get rid of the attacks?
If you want to get rid of panic for good, you have to break the cycle.
That’s all you need to do. It’s important to change your lifestyle as well (I’ll tell you about it in a moment), but realizing that the attacks aren’t dangerous, and breaking the chain reaction, is crucial. That’s how I got rid of panic — permanently — after months of struggle.
Whenever you feel anxious, you can use some of the following affirmations:
- This may be uncomfortable, but it’s not dangerous
- It’s impossible to die, and it’s impossible to suddenly go crazy
- This is temporary, and will go away very soon
- When I (…), my heart may beat faster; it’s normal
- When I (…), I may feel a bit anxious; it’s normal
- After I (…), I may feel exhausted; it’s normal
It’s also very important not to fight your symptoms. Understanding what panic is helps you control them; however you should never try to suppress them. Our feelings change constantly, so trying to suppress them would be unnatural, and would create even more tension.
What panic is telling you
Are you too stressed? Are you living someone else’s life? Do you have unrealistic expectations? Are you being too hard on yourself? Are you chasing something that doesn’t make you happy?
Most of the time, panic is that inner voice telling you to stop, and change your life. A lot of people experienced their first panic attack when they were overworked, pushing themselves, and neglecting their physical and mental health. I certainly was when I went through this.
Or, it could be that you are experiencing an emotional crisis after a very stressful event, such as a breakup, or the loss of a loved one.
Regardless of the exact cause (or causes), the common factor seems to be stress. Let’s have a look at some lifestyle changes you should implement right now, so you can put yourself first, reduce anxiety and take care of your body and mind.
Powerful lifestyle changes
First of all, eliminate all stimulants. All.
Stimulants such as coffee are bad enough for most people, but if you tend to be anxious, that’s a no-no. Why in the world would you want to increase alertness, if you’re too alert already? Why put further stress on your mind?
The second thing you want to do is schedule some me time, ideally every single day. In today’s world, most of us are very busy, to the point where it’s easy to forget about ourselves. When it comes to health — particularly mental health — it’s vital to put yourself first.
If you find it hard to schedule some free time for yourself, try to choose a time of the day (for example, right after you have dinner) and stick to it. Once it becomes a habit, it’ll be much easier. Remember, by doing this, you are not being selfish: you are taking care of your health.
It’s also very important that you don’t neglect your body: sleep at least eight hours per night, and improve your diet. Make sure you are eating enough (an insufficient amount of calories can make you feel tired or even dizzy), and enough nutrients; avoid or eliminate harmful foods, so your body is in peak condition; make sure you are hydrated; and avoid drinking too much alcohol.
Lastly, make sure you exercise. It has tremendous benefits in terms of mental clarity, happiness, sleep quality, and overall health. If you exercise sporadically, consider increasing the frequency of your workouts.
- Eliminate all stimulants
- Schedule some “me time”
- Sleep as much as possible
- Eat enough calories and nutrients
Panic attacks are very common.
Although terrifying, they are not dangerous, and in most cases they can be healed in a short period of time. Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (which helps you become more aware of your thoughts and feelings) is currently the most effective way of treating panic.
As promised, here is a quick summary of this post (you can download it and go through the main points anytime you want):
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