Nervousness – Anxiety – PANIC ATTACK!
Here’s how to stop it from escalating!
I have coached numerous clients who have experienced a panic attack. They are not as fearful of the overwhelm or overload in their life as much as FEARFUL of the panic attack episode re-occurring.
I have some useful tools that you can use. But first, to understand it better, lets start with nervousness.
When you become nervous it’s a signal that you’re starting to LOSE control.
If the nervousness is not interrupted, it will turn to anxiety and the body is now deep into “fight or flight” mode. This means there’s a heightened level of alertness and adrenalin in your body and mind.
And the FAMOUS 5 words that everyone uses “ you need to calm down” are completely and utterly useless here….. let me tell you a quick story
River rafting in Australia
I’ll never forget the time (well there are lots of times) but this time especially is still fresh in my mind. I went group river rafting in Australia back many moons ago and the canoe capsized. Everyone made it up quite quickly, however I was caught underneath in between 2 large rocks with no way out. At that moment, I thought it was the end!
Now if you’ve been in a panic state before you’ll get the usuals, heart racing, clammy hands, feeling faint and rapid breathing yes? But I was under water! In white rapid water! So I couldn’t tell the top from the bottom or even the sides! Let alone try to breathe to calm down (which was obviously impossible!)
Anyway so eventually I did make it up to the surface! Finally climbed up onto a big boulder rock to rest, but I could feel my state getting worse, I was feeling faint thinking I was going to pass out and worried my panic attack was just about to COMMENCE!
and I’ll tell you why.
Moments after, I heard loud cheering and championing and lots and lots of people relieved and excited to see me. It was my group. Something suddenly changed and I felt “more with it” I was obviously very shaky still BUT something had changed in me. The cheering from the group had made me feel at ease but it was an “excited feeling” in my tummy and no longer a “sick” feeling of anxiety building into a potential panic attack! It was the EXCITEMENT that kicked in.
So asking someone to calm down not only will not work – it will infuriate the person because they CAN’T PHYSICALLY or PSYCHOLOGICALLY calm down from that heightened state!
A panic attack occurs because the anxiety has reached its peak. If you let it escalate then its too late. However in general circumstances (not underwater!) there are signs you can catch early on. And so, if you’re not in immediate danger, you can totally apply it.
There are a few ways you can use this is one:
1. Notice the first signs: (tightness in your chest/ heartbeat getting faster / clammy hands / shortness of breath.
2. Count your heartbeat and slowly it should lower. Your anxiety soon should lower too.
3. If counting heartbeat doesn’t work. Try the 5 senses method:
Sight - Look around and find five different things in your environment that you can see, and describe them in as much detail as you can
Hearing - Same as above, but close your eyes.
Touch - Find three ways to interact with your environment using your sense of physical touch
Smell - Seek out two things you can smell.
Taste - Is there something in your environment you can safely taste?
NERVOUSNESS TO EXCITEMENT
Its totally natural to get nervous, it’s a natural instinct! I get nervous when I need to hold my first seminar at a NEW organisation for example. But somehow I now switch it and it allows me to really enjoy the seminar and able to give out a good presentation.
What about you?
WHAT WAS THE LAST TIME YOU WERE SUPER NERVOUS ABOUT SOMETHING):
SITTING AN EXAM?
ABOUT TO BE LEAD SPEAKER IN A MEETING?
PLAY YOUR FIRST TENNIS MATCH?
ASK SOMEONE TO MARRY?
Now because the BRAIN doesn’t know the difference between NERVOUSNESS or EXCITEMENT, we can make the SWITCH EASIER than if we said to ourselves, ok now relax or calm down.
Calming down IS NOT same frequency as NERVOUSNESS
So it will not work.
However changing it to something you’re excited about, WILL.
CHANGE THE SWITCH TO “HANG ON” HOW EXCITING IS THIS!
An anchor thought is something you have been excited about in the past or currently. It needs to be something impactful in your life.
Your next holiday by the mountains or sea
The day your daughter/son graduated
A great celebratory moment in your life
Perhaps a wedding
Or a Great night out with friends or
Buying that new jacket
These are ANCHOR THOUGHTS
By shifting to “excitement anchor thought”, you’ll be in a wayyyyy better position to NAIL that presentation, or walk into that room full of people, or join that gym class, or play that tennis match
But it’s a process – so needs practice - Over time, your brain will create new pathways by kicking in the pre-frontal cortex and switch to that great perspective
IT NEEDS TO BE INSTANT!
The more you use this method the FASTER you’ll react ONE decision at a time.
Use it and learn it and say bye to Panic Attacks! And a much more balanced and exciting life!
Hope this has helped someone today!
Thanks for reading and listening!
Hugs Nat x