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The Dreaded Panic Attack - How to Survive...
Fear and Anxiety are normal human emotions we have all experienced when a danger or threat triggered ‘fight or flight’ reactions in our bodies to help keep us safe. But sometimes, these feelings overwhelm us when there is no actual threat to our safety, otherwise known as a Panic Attack.

You are not alone
It is estimated that 1 in 20 people experience Panic Attacks or Anxiety Attacks at some stage in their lives, with many people learning to manage them successfully using strategies and tools we’ll talk about...

What are the Symptoms?...
Symptoms of Anxiety or Panic Attack include:
Rapid or irregular heartbeat
Chest pain
Shallow breathing & hyperventilating
Sweaty palms or body
Dizziness and vertigo
Shaking hands or body

Make sure you are actually OK…
It is important to know that your symptoms are not caused by a physical illness, so make sure to have a thorough check with a doctor you trust. Being able to rule out any fear that you have a serious illness can be crucial to containing the panic and being able to use credible self-talk. Knowing you are ok will make the next step so much easier.

What to Say to Yourself…
This is just a Panic Attack.
I am Safe.
I am Healthy.
This Will Pass.

Recognise what is happening to you…
After many panic attacks, most people realize they are unlikely to die or lose control, remembering they have survived other attacks in the past. But this knowledge may be forgotten during a panic attack, because the feelings are so intense that they fear this time may be different.
During a panic attack most people are focusing on the physical feelings they have in their bodies, like their pounding heart, or their dizziness, or their shaking hands. They interpret these symptoms to mean that something dangerous and awful is happening to them. Unfortunately, this only makes matters worse. When you tell yourself you are in danger, you activate the fight or flight response, your body releases more adrenaline, and the physical symptoms of panic get worse. So, instead, remind yourself that you are safe, you are healthy, and This Will Pass. Go on, say it to yourself now.

What to Do…

1. Breathe in – breathe out…
Deepen your breath, both on the way in and on the way out. See if you can simply focus on that breath, listening to it and lengthening it. Check out some
Breathing Exercises here if you want to know a few different ways to focus.

2. Unclench Your Jaw
It’s so easy to hold tension in our jaw and a quick way to begin to relax the body. Drop your shoulders, release your belly. Scan your body and see where any other tension is, check that your tongue and your ears are relaxed (sounds weird I know!)

3. Open Your Hands
This is also called “Willing Hands”. Simply turn up your open hands onto your lap or rest them open beside your body. Opening your hands has been proven to immediately reduce intense negative feelings throughout the body – give it a try right now…

4. Describe something in Step-by-Step detail
Describe the detailed steps to do something you know well (e.g. step-by-step to roast vegetables, count backwards by 10s from 200, how you change the sheets on your bed) . This is a grounding technique that can short circuit a panic attack. You can even describe where you are right now in detail… the floor, the windows,


Getting a Better Understanding of Yourself…
It is important to identify what you are saying to yourself leading up to, and during, a panic attack. Collect a sample of these thoughts and write them down. This may take some practice, because at first it may seem like you are just feeling things, and not thinking anything at all. If you cannot identify what you are thinking, try asking yourself what you believe is happening to you, and notice whether you are judging what is happening as being awful or dangerous.
What would you say to a friend?…
Now, imagine you had a friend who suffered from panic attacks and you had read about panic and discovered it was unpleasant, even scary, but not dangerous. What would you say to your friend next time you were with her and she started to panic?
You need to say something that will reassure and comfort your friend, and help her settle down. It’s just the same when you’re the one panicking – thinking the worst makes panicky feelings worse. Reminding yourself that you are not in danger, and that you can cope with a panic attack, helps you to turn off your fight or flight response and stop releasing adrenaline

Check the Facts…
As I said earlier, it is important to know that your symptoms are not caused by a physical illness, so make sure to have a thorough check with your trusted doctor.

To recap, if you are having a Panic Attack, try this

What to Say to Yourself…
This is just a Panic Attack.
I am Safe.
I am Healthy.
This Will Pass.

What to Do…
Breathe in – breathe out…
Unclench Your Jaw
Open Your Hands
Describe something in Step-by-Step detail

Why not take a pic of this with your phone so you have it on hand if you think you might be heading for a Panic Attack.

Challenging anxious thoughts is a very important part of learning how to manage your anxiety and panic attacks.
If you need more help, contact me at ThoughtMatters 0414 99 66 13 so we can tailor steps you can take to manage and overcome your Panic Attacks.

Vanessa
0414 99 66 13
ThoughtMatters




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Is your Social Media Feed Killing You?

Ok, there’s your Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, LinkedIn, Snapchat, to get through, let alone your Messenger, WhatsApp and regular texts to read and respond to! It takes dedication (and a helluva lot of time!) to keep up with the constant flow of ‘information’ about the hundreds of people you know and follow and check if they are noticing, liking and following you back!. If you are really honest, there is every likelihood that you are spending much longer each day connected to your social media feed than you would prefer.

So how do you change that?

We are social beings - herd animals, if you like!
Humans need connection to feel secure. You might argue that watching what is happening in your friends’ lives is a type of connection. But it is removed and voyeuristic, actually creating a sense of missing out and aloneness.

In Psychology Today, Amy Morin, says “Of course, it would seem logical to assume that people use Facebook because it somehow enhances their lives. But oddly, research suggests the opposite. Studies show Facebook use is associated with lower life satisfaction…envying your friends on Facebook leads to depression.
If you are feeling frustrated by the way your addiction of your social media feed is shrinking your enjoyment of life, you need to develop strategies:

• Create “sacred space” around some activities, where NO online connecting is allowed: think family meals, parent-kid time, nature walks, and bedtime. Just enjoy what you are doing – and whom you’re doing it with!

• Don’t always take your phone when you go out. Ok, the group might need one phone for emergencies, but does everyone really need one?

• Use Delaying tactics: Like the smoker who is dealing with cravings, you can practice delaying tactics to manage your screen time. Remind yourself that you can check it later, do something else right now (if you must stay on your phone, maybe dial up a Meditation App like Stop, Breathe & Think and spend 10 minutes practicing being present in your own life).

• Leave screens outside the bedroom. Using an alarm clock instead of your phone means you will resist checking your feed as soon as you wake up.

• Give yourself permission to walk away from, or even suspend, your
social media accounts (make sure your friends know how to contact you).

• Go to a connectivity-free zone to recharge (the bush, a way-out farm, mountain retreat, etc.)

• Create a regular Connectivity-Free time with the family – think about charades, drag out the board games, or light some candles and make dinner a ‘just because’ celebration.

• When you do decide to check out other peoples’ lives, limit the time to 30 minutes by setting an alarm on your phone.

• Reward yourself: Ah yes, the best part! The benefit from having extra time in your day is all about treating yourself well. Re-engage with other things you’d like to do. Is an early morning walk something you’d like to fit into your day? Can you pop over to a friend’s house for a cuppa or catch up after work one afternoon. If you notice you never get to read a book any more, have a bath instead of a shower and take a book in there with you. Be spontaneous! Go biking, kayaking, rollerblading, or swimming.

When you make any of these changes, check in with your own happiness and engagement with your experience of life. Acknowledge any improvement you feel by disconnecting from the relentless social media feed that was previously eating up your life.

Be kind to yourself. If you slip up and find your thumbs flicking through the relentless feeds, close it down, congratulate yourself for noticing, forgive yourself and re-commit to your goal.

The moment you do, you'll get the time back to be involved in your own version of life, rather than somebody else’s.
 


If you'd like to read more check out my blog posts - thoughtmatters.com.au/blog

If you are going through some tough things, feeling overwhelmed, or 'stuck' and
​need to talk through some issues and find a clear path, give me a call to discuss - the first 15 minutes is free - and we can see if you'd like to book in for a session.
Not near Mona Vale NSW? ... Skype sessions are a great alternative.

Vanessa Steele - counsellor
0414 99 66 13
ThoughtMatters


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Sorry!... 3 Powerful ways to get your apology right
Free tips to learn how to make your apology meaningful and get forgiven - whether the mistake is small or large... click here: thoughtmatters.com.au/blog
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What we say when we talk to ourselves influences what we think about ourselves which in turn influences how we feel which influences how we behave.  Pay attention to your self-talk.  Is your self-talk negative?  Try replacing this negative self talk with more positive, affirming self-talk.  "I am so tired" might become "I am tired but will get an early night tonight and will feel better tomorrow.  "I can't do this" might become "I'm having trouble with this so I will ask for some help".  Listen to what you say to yourself and be more compassionate.
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It is often inertia that makes us feel uncomfortable. When we stay 'stuck' in our problems is when we can start to feel overwhelmed.  Consider what is the first step I can take towards achieving my goal.
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Life indeed is complex.  When we are struggling with its complexities it is time to consider who and where are my supports?  Who can I lean on right now to help me get through my difficulties?
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What are the key ingredients to consider when we think about our general wellbeing?

EXERCISE. We need to move our bodies.  And it doesn't need to be for too long.  Just 20 to 30 minutes a day and you will feel the benefits for your physical and emotional wellbeing.  Even if you only have 10 minutes - take it and move vigorously.

NUTRITION. Eat whole foods and leave out the processed, packaged food where you can - you will be leaving out a lot of the extra sugar and salt you do not need.  Enjoy lots of variety in your food. Eat more fruit and vegetables. And then eat some more vegetables.

SLEEP.  We often ignore this essential ingredient.  Most of us need 8 hours of sleep per night.  Turn off the electronics a little earlier in the evening and set yourself up for a good night's sleep by relaxing before bed with a good book, some meditation, listening to a podcast or whatever you like to do to relax.
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