Defusing that Anxiety Attack

N Cubed Group
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Defusing that Anxiety Attack

N Cubed Group
(Listen to the Podcast HERE)

We have all been there at some point in our lives, and many more than once; the sudden increase in heart rate, the increase in body temperature, the feeling of lightheadedness, shallow breathing and nausea.

The causes can be numerous, but all share a common theme: we are facing something unknown or something we fear in some way.

It can be an upcoming presentation at work, or a strange noise in the night, or an oncoming person or group of people who look intimidating, all of which trigger our 'Freeze - Flight - Fight' response. This age old survival mechanism is not required much these days in the way it was for our distant ancestors, but even though our environment is very different to way back then, the response can still be valid, especially if feeling threatened.

The chemical shifts in our body are designed to prepare us for taking some sort of action, and ensuring our muscles are primed to react swiftly if needed, so our brain floods our nervous systems with hormones such as Cortisol and Adrenaline, and shuts down our digestive system in order to focus all our resources onto our physical ability to react (fight - flight).

Often, this is an overreaction in today's environments, and we need to have a way of 'turning off' the automatic (limbic) response by recognising the fear is not as we believe it to be.

We teach a number of techniques in our workshops and online training sessions, relating to how and why this happens, and how to better control our arousal response system, but here are a few you can try yourselves should you feel an anxiety or panic attack coming on:

  • Apply the 4-7-8 Breathing technique. When you feel your breath quickening, focus your attention on inhaling through your nose for 4 seconds, holding this full breath for 7 seconds, and then slowly exhale through your mouth for 8 seconds. Repeat until your breathing slows. This is extremely effective for those pre-presentation or interview anxiety nerves.
  • Recognize and accept what you’re experiencing. If you’ve already experienced an anxiety or panic attack, you know that it can be incredibly frightening. Remind yourself that the symptoms will pass and you’ll be alright. Also, if the issue is related to a phobia of some kind, tell yourself that the level of perceived threat is not accurate and that this response is not required, as the situation is rarely as threatening as you believe. Repeating this in a type of mantra can help to reduce your stress response.
  • Practice mindfulness. Mindfulness-based interventions are increasingly used to treat anxiety and panic disorders. Mindfulness is a technique that can help you ground your thoughts in the present. You can practice mindfulness by actively observing thoughts and sensations without reacting to them.
  • Use relaxation techniques. Relaxation techniques include guided imagery, aromatherapy, and muscle relaxation. If you’re experiencing symptoms of anxiety or a panic attack, try doing things that you find relaxing. Take a walk in a garden or park if available, close your eyes and apply the breathing technique above, take a bath, or use lavender, which has relaxing effects.

If your anxiety and panic attacks are, or become, regular, this can have a longer lasting effect on your body and it's immune system, and symptoms such as constant digestive issues, increased potential for depression, weight gain through the constant increase in hormones like cortisol, and more frequent dizziness and headaches, so talk to your GP as well as consider programmes such as ours which provide techniques to reduce the frequency and intensity of such attacks.

Please get in contact with us if you want more details of our Corporate Workshops or our online training sessions.

PHONE: 44 (0) 7846 417041
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