Severe panic attacks can be totally frightening, you suddenly feel as though you’re totally losing control, having a heart attack or possibly dying. Panic attacks are the result of a flood of chemicals being produced by your body to alert you against a possible life threat, this is a biological alarm system that was designed by nature to help you survive life threatening conditions but this alarm system severely malfunctions in panic attacks and raises false alarms even when there is no real danger.
Researchers suggest that stress may be at the core of panic attacks:
Stress triggers the Hypothalamus –pituitary axis in the body which in-turn releases stress hormones. The adrenal glands are also triggered off in this reaction and it causes the release of anxiety producing harmful chemicals in the body.
It is common for people who’ve had one panic attack to be worrying about when is it going to happen again.
There are many ways to get control over panic attacks and possibly even eradicate them, the core of panic attack management is understanding how panic attacks work. Panic attacks trigger a release of chemicals such as adrenaline, cortisol in the body, but these chemicals are produced only in limited amounts and these chemicals eventually burn out.
Once the chemicals burn out, the panic attacks come to a halt. You need to understand that an episode of panic attack cannot go on forever and your panic attack will eventually come to a stop. You are not going to die from severe panic attacks however you may go through some of the symptoms listed below:
The best strategy to survive these attacks is to control your breathing during the panic attacks and remind yourself that this temporary terror produced by your body will go away once your body runs out of chemicals.
It is best to visit a physician and rule out any medical causes that may be causing your disorder. A psychiatrist/ psychologist can give you the best instructions to prevent one when you feel it coming on.
The therapist will possibly suggest that you totally relax and allow your muscles to relax and is likely to teach you methods and techniques of controlled relaxation.
Apart from psychological techniques, eastern practices such as meditation and yoga allow you to feel centered and maintain a balanced state of mind and you are in a good position to handle panic attacks when you are physically and mentally balanced.
Whenever we face stress or anxiety we go into a mode of shallow breathing, this shallow breathing is perceived by the body as a signal of danger and it releases more panic chemicals into your body, so controlled and calm breathing is a good place to start when it comes to taking control over situations of panic or anxiety.
Any form of exercise is a good idea because it will lower your stress levels and improve your breathing. Many of the treatments that have helped to prevent or control panic attacks in a very efficient and effective way and they all involve the use of medications, relaxation techniques or psychotherapy.
Below is an exercise you can practice to train your body to relax:
We all hold tension in our muscles. Most of the tension is held up in your shoulders. Do you find your shoulders are gradually lifting up to your ears instead of staying relaxed and down? Do you experience headaches, backache, neck pain, stomach upsets, dull and clogged up breathing or frequent colds?
TECHNIQUE FOR BREATHING RELAXATION:
These meditation and breathing exercises help you calm your mind, relax your muscles and make you feel more centered.
Sit or lie comfortably, limbs uncrossed and relaxed. Take three slow and deep breaths, filling your lungs completely and exhale out emptying your lungs completely. Focus your attention (your awareness) to a spot in the center of your chest. Breathe in gently to a count of five breathe out to a count of five. You can count longer if you like as long as you feel comfortable.
Do this whenever you feel uncomfortable – whether it be a social situation or a panicky feeling..
Sit or lie comfortably, limbs uncrossed and relaxed. Take three slow and deep breaths, filling your lungs completely and exhale out emptying your lungs completely. Focus your attention (your awareness) to a spot in the center of your chest. Breathe in then out counting this as NUMBER 1. Continue until you reach NUMBER 10. If your mind strays, go back to 1 Continue as long as you like.
MUSCLE TENSION AWARENESS:
This exercise helps you to build awareness of muscle tension so you know the difference between a tense muscle and a relaxed muscle.
Try doing this exercise in bed, either before you get up or before you go to sleep. It is great to either set you up for the day, refreshed, or to send you into a peaceful sleep, relaxed. To refresh you, start at the toes and work upward, for relaxation, start at the head and work down. Do all the muscle groups or only one group. The intention is to teach your body how to recognize the difference between a tense muscle and a relaxed one.
Stand, lie or sit for this exercise with your feet flat on the ground and your arms relaxed at your sides.
The key to this exercise is to learn to crunch your muscles in the direction of stress i.e. crunch them in a direction similar to the one where you are totally keyed up and stressed. Imagine how your muscles would be crunched if you experienced maximum stress on a scale of one to ten.
Then exhale and relax. Repeat till you feel totally relaxed. You can also follow the Linden method of relaxation technique to reduce muscle tension.
The groupings of muscles are as follows:
Scalp: continual tension in scalp muscles is thought to be the major cause of balding in modern times. Breathe in and slightly tense the muscles of your scalp. This is probably the most difficult of the groups to isolate but you can do it with practice. Breathe out – and release the tension. Repeat this until you feel confident you can isolate this muscle grouping. With each group, breathe in tensing the muscle group and as you breathe out release the tension.
Face: Breathe in and scrunch up your face. Breathe out and as you breathe out, let go of the tension in your face muscle. Repeat as needed. You may find you need to clench and unclench your jaw a few times to allow you feel the complete relaxation here. Don’t worry if your mouth opens.
NOTE: It is important that you splash on some water on your face as you crunch your face, since the skin in this area is sensitive.
Other groups of muscles:
- Neck and shoulders
- Upper back
- Lower back
- Calf muscles
- Feet and ankles
For a complete relaxation exercise, take your time and do the whole body. Repeat each area with at least three breathes circles. You can also perform any of these famous treatment techniques which you can access instantly the treatment techniques here.
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