KENTUCKY (11/21/12) – As I stated in my last article, “The Road Back to Me”, according to MedicineNet, over 60 million people will suffer with anxiety at one point in their life. Over four million people experience generalized anxiety each year. Panic attacks can start as early as 15 years of age.
Most people who know me and/or have been reading my column knows that I was one of the 60 million. I struggled with anxiety daily for 18 years. Within the next several weeks, I want to share with you about my life with anxiety and the road I took to find myself again. I feel it necessary to share my story, especially due to the staggering numbers of people who are suffering with this in silence. My hope is to help others just like myself, people who are drowning in worry daily. These are some of the steps I used that helped greatly.
I know that change and trying something new can be very scary. If your anxiety gets worse while reading these articles – it is normal and okay. Just feel the fear and do it anyway. The techniques I am sharing with you in these articles are the same techniques I used to overcome my anxiety. They work – if you work. Remember, what are you really gaining from staying where you are? Picture yourself how you would like to be – the person you can be without the anxiety. Write a description of him or her down and read it regularly. Let that be your motivation for change. Let it motivate you to feel the fear and do it anyway. I believe in you! If I can do it, so can you!
I want to share with you a powerful tool I learned to help reduce panic attacks significantly. If used regularly, this technique can stop them all together in time. I’m going to share with you four steps to end panic attacks. I encourage you to implement this immediately.
- Step 1: Notice the very first anxious thought you have. Don’t wait until you’ve had five or fifty thoughts. It just escalates if you do. At the first anxious thought, hold up a stop sign in your mind.
- Step 2: Give yourself permission to feel this way. Don’t ignore it or run from it. Accept it. By doing this you’re facing the thought head on.
- Step 3: Talk to yourself positively, like you would a dear friend who is feeling anxious. It’s time to stop beating ourselves up and being our own worst enemy. We are so worth defending.
- Step 4: Distract yourself with something else. Get busy. Go play with your kids or listen to some of your favorite music, whatever you can do to preoccupy your mind with something else.
Repeat as needed.
Here is an example:
In my own life, when I struggled with anxiety, some of it came from me not being able to accept the fact of making mistakes at work. So, of course, I’d make a mistake (I am human). Then the anxious thought would come, “Oh no! I screwed that up!” At that first thought I learned to tell my brain to stop, using these steps. Then I’d say to myself, “You know it’s ok to feel anxious at work at times. This job is important.” At that moment I gave myself permission to feel anxious. Then I’d continue with positive inner dialogue. I talked to myself like I would my best friend if she were beating herself up for a mistake at work. I’d think things like, “I am human and everyone makes mistakes here. My bosses feel I am a good worker or they would not have had me here as long as they have. I have them and my co-workers here for support and backup. Everything will be ok. Will I even remember this happening this time next year or even next week for that matter?” At that time my mind was calming down and I could feel those old body symptoms of anxiety fading away. I then got busy with something else.
See how this works?
Again, our anxiety is a bad habit that we have learned. Just like any bad habit it can be broken or unlearned. I am the one responsible for my anxious and worrisome thoughts. Since I am responsible, I am my own safe place and safe person.
When we have an anxious thought, we send our body into a stress response that is responsible for all those scary body symptoms we feel right before a panic attack. Power against them comes from the knowledge of what’s going on in our body and how to combat it. One way to combat that is through the four steps I just shared with you. For this process to work for you, you must practice every day. When I stated doing this, it literally cut down my anxiety attacks by more than half! And I believe it can do the same for you.
In my next article I will talk about negative thinking and anxiety.
Check out my new blog, “The Holiday Challenge.”
If you are interested in learning more about the program that helped my anxiety go to: https://store.midwestcenter.com/takeyourlifeback
Disclaimer: This article is meant to support your overall well-being. This article is not meant to replace professional healthcare. I (Gayla Miller) am not a psychiatrist, psychologist, counselor, therapist, social worker or any other trained health professional. When you try the techniques outlined in these articles, you understand all of the above and you are participating by your own free will.
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