Panic attacks and anxiety can be paralyzing and feel uncontrollable.
If you have ever been startled, panicked or anxious you are all too familiar with the pounding heart, sick feeling in your stomach, hyperventilating and a feeling of being outside of your body unable to think clearly.
These feelings are very uncomfortable, yet they have a lot to do with our survival as a species. The ability of our unconscious mind to instantly recognize potential threats and ready us to fight or escape were prized attributes back in the day when our ancestors had to survive dinosaurs and other predators.
Those humans who were slow to notice and react to threats had short life spans. Modern humans are descendants of those who were keenly aware of lurking dangers and passed that ability forward. So the anxious feelings that we have are a natural response to potential threats.
So now that you understand this survival mechanism that we call anxiety what does it look like?
Laura left the meeting feeling really confident. All of her team’s hard work had paid off. She closed the conference room door and buttoned up her navy jacket. It’s true being in power colours really made her feel more confident. As she walked towards the elevator she could hear the click clack of her high heels on the highly polished marble floors. She felt great. The elevator doors opened and she squeezed in beside Mark from acquisitions, Judy from the administrative side and Shelly or Sherry from the mailroom, she could never remember her name. As the doors closed, Laura was reviewing her list of items that needed to be finished off to compete this project. All of a sudden the lights went out and she felt the elevator lurch to a stop with a jolt. Shelly screamed and Laura was aware of people around her grabbing for their phones. After a moment the elevator lights came on and it continued moving. Laura went on with the rest of her day.
Towards the end of the week Laura was going downtown to meet her best friend Josie, Josie said she had some very exciting news to share. Intrigued Laura was hurrying to jump on the skytrain to meet her. The skytrain started its journey towards the city above ground. Laura was listening to some relaxing jazz just enjoying a quiet moment. The sky train continued its journey going under ground, the darkness outside the car instantly apparent. Laura felt her heart begin to race, she couldn’t breathe and she knew she just had out of there. Laura jumped off at the next stop and ran up the stairs outside to the fresh air. She wrestled to get a big gulp of air forcing herself to breathe in and out. Was she too young and heathy to be having a heart attack? What was happening?
The primal part of us living in our unconscious mind quickly assesses dangers and makes connections based on past experiences. Sometimes it makes a mistaken connection that alerts us inappropriately. We feel that inappropriate connection as a panic attack or chronic anxiety if it mistakenly connects to many situations over a long period of time.
Having the ability to recognize danger in appropriate situations is necessary. Having a little bit of up energy can also help us prepare for upcoming competitions, work requirements and life in general but it is a situation where a little bit is good but more is not better.
So now that you understand how this all works how do we make it better?
The good news is it is very possible to quite quickly resolve anxiety and panic with appropriate therapy.
- Effective therapy will include our unconscious mind to help us unhook mistaken connections and create new healthy patterns.
- Teach the mind and body how to easily calm down and learn new responses.
- Understand that we can harness our conscious mind to focus on what we choose.
- Develop healthy habits that eliminate the effects of stress.
Contact me for an appointment if you want to eliminate your anxiety or panic
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