The road to recovery is paved with good intentions and visions of a better life, but it’s also fraught with preying monsters that like to tempt and torment you away from your dreams.
One such little nasty is anxiety and it manifests in a number of ways. The most intense and obvious example is with a panic attack. People who struggle with panic attacks will tell you that it’s not something you’d wish on your worst enemy and the vicious monster metaphor is pretty on point.
A panic attack is a sudden episode of intense fear that triggers intense physical and psychological reactions. In the midst of one of these episodes you might think you’re having a heart attack or some form of freak out. There’s a lot of heavy breathing, your heart is thumping, tears are streaming down your face, and your whole body goes into “run from the man-eating tiger” mode. Complete with racing thoughts of the worst possible kind, the whole ordeal is like being attacked, hence the name.
However there are a few ways we can mitigate this build-up of pressure that results in a full blown panic attack.
1 - Exercise
If you start to get nervous feelings that preclude a build-up of anxiety and a possible oncoming panic attack, go for a job or play a sport. Exercise gets the blood flowing through your body in healthy ways, releases beneficial endorphins into your brain, and eases the stress hormones in your system. All of this can alleviate the panic episode before it gets started and decrease your chances for having them.
2 - Conversation
Sometimes the act of talking things out with another person, or discussing something completely unrelated to your stressful thoughts, can get your attention firmly shifted away from the oncoming attack. Having someone you can turn to and start talking about your favorite tv show can be enough to shift your mind away from the symptoms building up in your mind and body. Prayer is another form of conversation you can do on your own that also leads us into the next tip.
3 - Meditation
This one is tough for most people because it’s not natural to our always-on, active mind culture. The concept is basic but can take years to master. You close your eyes, focus on counting your deep breaths, and keep your attention focused on your own awareness. Let thoughts come and go but do not attach your thinking to them. Let your mind relax and focus on something like counting breaths. This practice allows the mind, which gets wound up into tight knots of clustered thought, to unravel and relax. This can head off a panic attack and continued meditative practice will reduce the frequency of these attacks.
If your panic attacks and anxiety are seriously debilitating, consult a doctor for expert advice.
If you’re having trouble with anxiety in recovery, contact one of our counselors here at Banyan Treatment Center and we’ll see what we can do to alleviate the tension.