Why does anxiety come out of the blue? Or does it?

how to deal with a panic attack

Hello my friends! After a blogging hiatus I am BACK and refreshed and ready to write. I’m working on a new post for you now and it’ll be here on Honest Mom next week after the long Memorial Day weekend!

First, though, I have a special post from my friend, Jodi Aman. I’ve known Jodi since we went to the same summer camp, and a year or so ago we unexpectedly reunited on Twitter. Jodi is a psychotherapist who helps people with all kinds of challenges, and her work with people who have anxiety and depression is how we rediscovered each other.

Jodi shows people how to shift their thinking, change unwanted situations, and stop the out-of-control downward spiral by releasing their internal self-critic. She is wise and kind, and has all sorts of excellent advice on her website and her YouTube channel.

Jodi has a great new book out called You 1, Anxiety 0: Win your life back from fear and panic to keep calm in a crazy world which I can honestly recommend. I think it’s really great — and said so in my own review of her book!

Without further ado, here’s Jodi explaining why anxiety seems to hit you out of nowhere…

Jodi Aman - You 1 Anxiety 0

Why, oh why, does anxiety come out of the blue?

You are going along just fine, and bam! Anxiety comes out of the blue.

Your heart is racing and it’s hard to breathe. You look around, pace, and search for something to stop it. “I must really be crazy!” you think. “There is no reason for me to feel this way.”

That good-for-nothing anxiety has you all up in arms. Tied in a knot. Fumbling and immobilized. Discombobulated. Turned so far upside down, you don’t even know what hit you.

I used to think I was totally losing touch with reality when this happened to me. It was out of control, having no warning like this. I blamed myself and felt like there was nothing I could do to change it. I was in a no-win situation.

Thank goodness I figured out what was going on so I could stop thinking that I was insane in the membrane! I can’t wait to tell you about it so it can soothe your heart and mind, too.

So your anxiety is not your fault, it is biological!

Anxiety is never out of the blue. There is always a trigger.

Like I said, you have to do the heavy lifting here to change this. You have to un-trigger yourself to free yourself. But knowing what is going on will give you the advantage and help you not to feel so out of control all the time!

Be gentle with yourself. This is not the easiest problem to have and you have been through the ringer. Give yourself a hug. Have confidence that people get better from anxiety all the time. And so you can too. Even if you’ve had it forever. Even if you’ve tried everything. Anxiety is curable. You’ve got this!

If you need help, I go into all of these in depth in my new book You 1, Anxiety 0: Win your life back from fear and panic to keep calm in a crazy world.

Tell me, what does it feel like to know anxiety doesn’t come out of the blue?

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Jodi Aman wrote the bestseller, You 1, Anxiety 0, to help people WIN their life back from fear and panic. From the garden she started when she was 8 years old to the baby ducks she found a home when she was 10, Jodi has always been passionate about nurturing life and helping people overcome pain. Find Jodi on her website, Instagram, FacebookTwitter, and YouTube — and check out her great video on how to calm down during a panic attack:

homepage photo credit: DSC_06571 via photopin (license)

When panic strikes: 8 tips for dealing with an anxiety attack

 

SONY DSCThose who know me well know I struggle with anxiety and panic attacks. I always have and probably always will. Today, I pretty much have a handle on it; I understand it. But when I was younger—well, that’s another story.

As a child, I really didn’t understand my panic attacks. Talking about it or acknowledging it was taboo. It was a thing that I hated about myself and feared immensely. Growing up, I thought I was “abnormal” (a term that I often used to describe myself—just ask my parents). I felt like all my friends were so normal … and then there was me.

Anyone who’s had a panic attack will tell you it’s an absolutely terrifying experience. (I won’t go into details about exactly what happens to me when I have a full blown panic attack—let’s just say, it is extremely unpleasant. Extremely.) Much as I don’t enjoy this part of me, I no longer see myself as abnormal. Today, I (for the most part) see myself as an average person who, like so many, struggles with something less than awesome.

I don’t like it, but I do accept it. And I have a strategy for it—a strategy that has stopped many panic attacks in their tracks. It’s worked so well for me, I though I’d share my approach with you.

Steps for dealing with an oncoming panic attack:

  1. Breathe, deeply and slowly. This is unequivocally the first (and maybe most important) step in warding off an panic attack, in my opinion. Breathe in through your nose, filling you belly then your lungs, and out through your mouth. Do this over and over. Long, slow, deep breaths. In and out.
  2. Find a place to lie down, if possible. Try to relax your body. Keep breathing.
  3. Tell yourself that you are not in any physical danger. Though it may feel like something terrible is going to happen, tell yourself that what you are experiencing is not life-threatening—that you are safe.
  4. Keep breathing, in through the nose and out through the mouth.
  5. Invite the panic in. It’s banging on the door and it wants to knock it down. But don’t let it barge in. Don’t exert all of your energy trying to force it out. Just relax and let it in. By doing this, you will regain some control. With this, you become a willing participant rather than a victim.
  6. See your panic attack for what it is: your body’s coping mechanism for a perceived danger. It is not the enemy, but rather a part of you that thinks it is being helpful. It’s not the monster you think it is; it is well intentioned; it’s kicking your body into gear to handle what it perceives to be an emergent situation, even though it is not.
  7. Accept it. Don’t fear it. Make peace with it.
  8. Know that if your panic attack does takes over, it’s okay. Let it. It’s not the end of the world. This, too shall pass.

More times than not, I am able to keep my panic attacks at bay with this approach—but not always. When I do succumb—when the panic takes over—I’ll admit I get very upset and I start feeling sorry for myself. But with each step backwards, I remind myself that I am a work in progress. I try to see each failed attempt as a learning… as a forward step on my journey towards emotional peace. Though it’s not always easy, I work very hard at keeping this perspective.

I know that my panic attacks are not a thing of the past. I know they will strike again—and that’s okay. I have learned that accepting this imperfect part of me is much easier than the immense pressure I used to place on myself trying to will it away.

For more useful information, check out  Embracing the Fear: Learning To Manage Anxiety & Panic Attacks by Judith Bemis and Amr Barrada. This book has become my bible for anxiety and panic. I’ve referenced it so many times, it’s got more earmarked pages, circled paragraphs and underlined phases than I care to admit.

Have you ever had a panic attack? Do you have an approach that works for you?

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