Month: August 2013

Controlling Panic Attacks

If you have experienced a panic attack you may have felt like this:

Your heart races and you can’t think straight, you might be sobbing or dry heaving. You can’t catch your breath and your body is shaking. You don’t know what is going on but you know something is wrong and it feels like you are dying. Maybe it feels like a heart attack or like you are going crazy.

You can check out this video of a Victim of Panic Attacks to get a better idea

Panic attacks or anxiety attacks can strike at any moment, sometimes they happen at home, sometimes at work, even in the car. They are difficult to predict and harder still to stop.  You may be more likely to have panic attacks if anxiety runs in your family, if you are a planner, or if you experience a lot of stress for a long period of time. Sometimes people without a history of anxiety or panic will have a panic attack after a personal loss or a significant life change.

Does any of that sound like you? If you have had a panic attack before it is likely that you are afraid of having another one, you may even be avoiding the place or situation that triggered your last one. The fear of panic here makes sense, that is a very scary experience and it feels terrible, but holding on to the fear may increase the likelihood that you will have another panic attack. But what do you do instead of worry about having another attack? After all, you can’t outrun this thing or ignore it until it goes away.

Has anyone ever told you to just breathe? That sounds like a pretty flimsy fix for a full blown attack, but deep breathing is the only action you can take during a panic attack to regain control of your body. When you using deep breathing it triggers your parasympathetic nervous system to help regulate your body and get things under control. The more you practice the better you are at controlling your panic response.

So how does that work? Find a comfortable seat and relax your muscles. Rest your arms and settle your legs. If you have a clock or a metronome (anything that can keep a steady beat) use that to count a deep belly breath in for 4-6 counts in through your nose. Then exhale through your mouth for 4-6 counts, same number out as you took to take in. As you exhale purse your lips together like you are pushing air through a drinking straw. Continue to use this deep breathing until you feel more relaxed and in control of your body. Practice deep breathing at least once a day for about 5 minutes, this is a great way to start your day or a nice way to wind down before bed.  Remember the more you practice the better you are at taking back control!1


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First World Problems

Have you ever seen those “First World Problems” online?  They tend to go a little something like this:

 “Someone didn’t refill the Brita pitcher . . .  and now I have to wait 30 seconds for water.”

 “I can’t find the right balance between my fan and my electric blanket.”

As Louisville makes the switch between Insight to Time Warner Cable, many residents are experiencing their own version of first world problems as we work to upgrade our services, cancel services, or begin services all together. I recently decided to upgrade from standard internet to internet and digital cable. Ten days three service appointments, and four technicians later, I finally had cable. I also got the bonus of having cords run all over the floor and dealing with the challenge of hiding the cables to create a safe living space. THEN the day after cable was finally installed the cable and internet went out all together. Lovely. My initial reaction was to throw something out the window. I was so frustrated, so I dial up Time Warner and ask them to sort things out.

Not only had I been very patient throughout the whole process, rearranging my work schedule and being as polite as possible on the phone, but I have been a loyal customer for years. A situation like this can go one of two ways. You can blow up at the person on the other end of the phone just for breathing because you are so mad at a situation they had no part in creating or you can be as nice as humanly possible, get your services fixed and maybe, just maybe get some kind of credit towards your next bill. The initial reaction is to blast the first person you speak with – this is a problem and it needs to be fixed. Now! But does that really serve you? Does that fix your problem or make you feel better? And really – this is a luxurious problem to have. This was my first world problem and while it was legitimately frustrating, it is just cable.

When presented with challenges it is difficult to take time to process and to have a reaction that is both positive and productive. However, giving ourselves time and space to constructively handle situations in a way that is not only serving us well but also serves those around us well makes for a better way of living. These first world problems will pop up all the time and we can’t control that but we can control how we let that affect us.

(I did get my services fixed – and the phone representatives were very gracious in giving me a small credit to my next bill!)1


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