Ever felt your heart race or an intense pressure in your chest that reminds you of a heart attack, but there’s really nothing wrong with you? I know this feeling all too well and the other sensations that make up a panic attack.
Every person has different symptoms when they are severely stressed or having a panic attack. For some, it’s the racing heart or hyperventilation. For others it’s a bad headache or shaking hands. No matter what the symptoms are, they are always scary. And when you are afraid, your symptoms become exacerbated.
Panic attacks are the result of intense worry, fear, anxiety and stress. My own experience started when I was five months pregnant with my daughter and I was diagnosed with a serious heart arrhythmia. Every time I felt my heartbeat intensify, I would have a panic attack because I was scared. I received special surgery to fix my heart problem two years after the baby was born, but the panic attacks continued.
I did not know I was having panic attacks and wound up in the E.R. several times, thinking I was having a heart attack. Each time I went to the E.R., I was told the problem was anxiety. They would give me anxiety drugs and send me home. My primary care doctor did the same thing. I had been suffering with chronic stress and anxiety most of my life and had no clue about it.
Despite going to several mental health practitioners, I was unable to find anyone to teach me how to relieve stress and stop my panic attacks, so I went on my own personal journey of healing. I researched everything I could about stress relief, healing anxiety, panic attacks and healing the body itself. I tried many different modalities, supplements and healing styles. After a few years of finding out what works for me, I finally healed my anxiety, learned how to manage stress and I haven’t had a panic attack since.
Now, I work as a Stress Management Coach, Medical Intuitive and Certified Meditation Instructor. I am able to help people who suffer like I did with stress and panic attacks to heal these issues and live a better life.
Here are a few things you can try that I found to be especially helpful.
1. The first thing to do when having a panic attack is to tell yourself internally, “I am okay. I am not going to die. I am only having stress or anxiety.” Sometimes self-talk alone will knock it out.
2. Breathing: Start focusing on your breathing. Close your eyes if you can and focus on the breath going in and out of your nose. If that doesn’t work, try breathing in through your nose long and slow for a count of eight and then breathing out through your mouth for a count of eight slowly, like a leaking balloon. This will slow your heart rate and help with hyperventilation and shortness of breath.
3. Visualization: Close your eyes and imagine yourself on a beach in Hawaii. Imagine blue sky, sunshine, ocean and sand. Create a detailed scene in your mind. Any visualization of a setting that brings you peace will do.
4. Learn how to practice Mindfulness meditation, which is present moment awareness. Several studies have shown that Mindfulness is helpful for relieving anxiety and mild depression. A study done by Johns Hopkins University of research suggests that about 30 minutes of meditation daily may improve symptoms of anxiety and depression, without medication.
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