Wednesday, September 06, 2006

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Meditate as one way to find greater calm

It's your call. So many of my clients seek help from me and from other people because their lives are so out-of-control. By that, I mean that they usually only seek help when they can't sleep, or when they want to sleep too much, or they can't eat, or they want to eat too much. Many of the clients who come to me with anxiety problems also have lives that are way too filled with way too much to do.

Extremes. Only in extremes do we become aware of the subtle but devastating effect that the stressors in their lives are having on our biological systems. You see, even though we're all blogging away, and cyberspace has almost replaced the handwritten letter (what a thrill to get one of those!!), we're still the same biological entity we've always been. We still need sleep, food, water to survive, and not necessarily in that order :-).

When our brains are bombarded with too many visual, audio and other images we all find it increasingly difficult to 'tune out', 'turn off the inner noise'. Our sleep is not as restful and our energy is not at its peak. At that stage, we become even more vulnerable to episodes of out-of-control anxiety and panic attacks. No. I'm not saying that any one thing causes anxiety issues. I am saying that an inability to have a good and positive reaction to the stressors in our lives can and does make an anxiety-prone person even more on edge.

When was the last time you did absolutely nothing except count your breaths?
That translates into: when did you last sit quietly, at peace with your self, and Just let your thoughts drift in, no fighting them, no engaging with them, just letting them drift out again? When was the last time you meditated?

Never? Ages ago? An hour ago?

From my counselling practice and based on the many people I've worked with over the years, I have found meditation to be the single most direct path to lowering the negative effects of too much work, too many children's tears during a normal day, too much television, too many words on the radio.

Find peace. Meditate.

Thursday, July 27, 2006

Anxiety and Panic Attacks and an instant escape

Life's too short! Escape from anxiety now.
Anxiety is absolutely vital to our existence. Without it, we'd never get out of the way of danger and most of us would never be motivated to study for exams, train for sporting events or even write blogs! So yes, I'm sure you all know the difference between what we can call positive anxiety and negative anxiety. The latter type does not motivate anyone. It undermines your confidence and let's be brutally honest about it, that type of over-the-top anxiety which sometimes leads to feelings of terror and panic, that sort of anxiety is just so upsetting and it can ruin the best events.

Many of my counselling clients talk about their anxiety and panic attack symptoms as if they are out of their control. "It just happens out of the blue". "I wasn't even thinking about anything in particular and I felt those panic feelings."

I will go into the physiology of anxiety in my next post. Those of you who know it back to front, inside out and upside down, you can skip the next post. I'll walk you through the fact that even your out-of-the-blue panic feelings are about you and your thoughts. A caveat as always. I have to assume that you've been thoroughly checked by your wonderful General Practitioner or Physician. They've reassured you that your racing pulse, dry mouth, sweaty palms and all the other physical symptoms are not due to heart problems, emphysema, Diabetes and a range of other physical maladies.

Emotional Freedom Techniques™ is your path to freedom
For now, I want to tell you that you can quickly and easily go to the other side of anxiety, panic attacks and phobias using Gary Craig's amazing Emotional Freedom Techniques™ . If you've invested in my self-help, downloadable kit Calming Words you'll have read why I am so excited by it. Look, I do absolutely believe in you or your loved one facing your anxiety, understanding its physiology and psychology but...It's now such a big but that I use the Emotional Freedom Techniques™ as an integral part of my counselling Practice. But, I also believe that I was very, very fortunate to have found this marvellous technique which transcends conventional approaches to anxiety, and panic attacks and other emotional problems. When my clients are first introduced to it, I'm sure they think: "hey, Jeannette's lost it here! What am I doing tapping various parts of my face??". Gary Craig admits that the technique looks weird. So does sticking needles into people to help them in childbirth or at the Dentist. That's called acupuncture and it's now taught as an elective in most Australian and British medical courses. Emotional Freedom Techniques™ is based on the same principles.

My clients may be sceptical initially. Then they're amazed. Sometimes, after many years of endless anxiety attacks and panic attacks or phobias about bridges, water, spiders...whatever, one or two ten minute sessions and they're free.

No. I don't know exactly how it works. I just know it does. I don't fully understand how acupuncture works either. Again, we all now know it does. So if you really want emotional freedom - freedom from addictions (I've used it with wonderful results on food addictions), freedom from anxiety, go to Gary Craig's website. Download his fr+ee comprehensive manual and see for yourself -> Emotional Freedom Techniques™. Visit now if you want to be rid of our anxiety and panic attacks.

Thursday, July 20, 2006

Panic attacks when you're home alone

Panic attacks can be terrifying and debilitating at any time. But when you're home alone in the evening, they can be intensely frightening.

Why would that be? There are a number of reasons but the primary one is that people whose anxiety switch is turned to 'high' or 'overload' are usually very imaginative and sensitive. Take those basic ingredients of a great human being, add some wind howling outside, strange noises emanating from the ceiling, a window shutter banging, floors creaking and....I'm scared just thinking about it.

When a highly imaginative and creative person has experienced out-of-the-blue episodes of panicky fear and terror-like symptoms, it seems absolutely logical that when put in a situation which can be a bit scary for most of us, that person will key in more powerfully to the imaginative possibilities that the noises are...real danger.

Many of the people I've counselled talk about how until they recovered from what we call panic attacks, the greatest fear they had was that of having to stay alone at night. On that note however, I must add a caveat there. Those of my clients who lived alone all the time, didn't have that reaction. I'll leave it to you to guess why, or why not.

At home alone on a dark wintry night...
May I suggest that the next time you're home alone listening to all those scary sound, you do this.

First, write down what you find frightening. Re-read what you've written. Date it. The difference between what you've written and how you've felt in the past with episodes of panic is this.

Now at home listening to strange and frightening sounds, you probably feel that you have legitimate reasons to feel afraid. You may have written that you heard the back fence door open, so you're afraid that an intruder has come on to your property. I'd be afraid in that circumstance. Anyone with any sense in the 21st century would be worried. So don't just assume that your feelings are baseless. Go quickly and quietly to a place where you can see if your fears were justified.

Great. No one is there. The gate is closed. In fact, you can see that it's locked.

Now write down how you feel after that sensible check up.

You feel better? Of course. OK, you're someone who feels panicky when you know it's not appropriate. You wish you didn't feel panic stricken at the movies, in the Mall, driving on a freeway. Just because you do, doesn't mean that you can't deal with legitimately potentially dangerous and frightening situations in a very calm and sensible way.

If however when you're home alone, you write about generalised sense of just being scared - as in your episodes of panic, then do as I advised in an earlier post, do the only thing that can set you free from high levels of anxiety and panic: welcome the feelings of fear. Look at them, as if you're observing an experiment. Tell your fear symptoms to do their worst.

And you'll feel them go away.

If you no longer fear your feelings of fear in your panic attacks, it will lose its power to...frighten you. Keeping notes of those episodes will also help later. You can read about how you felt and how you survived those panic attacks.

Thursday, July 13, 2006

Anxiety and its conquest is a journey

Anxiety can be conquered

Anxiety and panic attacks can be overcome. My experience of over twenty years in that field is that there is no instant cure. In fact, the idea of a 'cure' in the sense of you never, ever, feeling anxious again is a nonsense. Too many people on the Internet, and I guess elsewhere, have great products and programs to sell and to sell them, they distort the truth to the extent that you say they were either grossly exaggerating, or lying. Others have very questionable products and programs and the same marketing tactics are used.

When I say that there is nothing that can cure anxiety, all I mean is that you need your anxiety, fear and even terror to keep you safe and well. When your levels of anxiety are out of control and inappropriate, then that mechanism which is part of your warning signal - to tell you to get out of danger's way - that healthy emotional response is a problem not a help.

Talk to your fears
What you can do, and do very easily, is to learn how to manage your anxiety so that it doesn't bubble over and become a problem. You can follow Dr Claire Weekes's advice that I mentioned in an earlier post. That is, you can accept the feelings of inappropriate anxiety, fear and panic and just say to them, words to this effect :

" Oh. Welcome back you panic feelings. You always come around when I'm going to the Mall, or driving (put in your situations here). I realise that although I feel afraid, in fact I feel terrified, I know that there's nothing to fear - except you...and you can't hurt me, you're just feelings. I'm afraid so my pulse races, and my mouth goes dry. Those sensations make me upset and even more panicky. Who wouldn't be!! But I do know that there's no real and present danger. You're here because my panic switch is on when it shouldn't be. So welcome, but the party's over. I don't want you around. So watch me while I watch you....evaporate."

I don't expect you to do that word for word. But I do hope that you try that approach to your anxiety and panic attacks.

Wednesday, July 05, 2006

Anxiety doesn't always lead to panic

Anxiety doesn't always develop into episodes where you feel terrified, with your heart racing, your throat going dry and your palm sweating, otherwise known as a panic attack.

In my counselling work, I find that there are two groups of people with anxiety. One group seeks help early. They work to face their anxiety, their role in its continuation and they learn new more helpful ways to manage situations, people and places that evoke anxiety.

The other group - equally wonderful, creative and intelligent people - have often been so taken aback by their anxious thoughts and the very upsetting feelings of fear, that they haven't wanted to even acknowledge they have those anxiety feelings. That's more than understandable in a world that talks about anxiety disorder, as if anxiety is a disorder. Our world with its emphasis on yet-to-be-defined success, usually paints a picture of successful people as those who've never had an anxious nano second!

I've met a number of University students for instance who feel they'd rather face a firing squad than talk in class. Those people have a mixture or shyness ( a beautiful trait in the world of brash over-confidence), social anxiety, anxiety or even agoraphobia. In each instance, we're talking about their emotional response to the world. They do not have a disorder. Of course even if they did, that wouldn't make them a lesser being. Think of Stephen Hawking. What I'm alluding to is the fact that many people don't feel confident about even seeking help. Let alone getting help in time to re-write their anxiety thoughts and feelings.

As a consequence, some of those people experience panic attacks. Not all. And nor do panic attacks all have their genesis or beginnings among people who have had anxiety for years. Some people have their first episode of out-of-the-blue panic, terror, without ever having had a more generalised anxiety.

However your anxiety, panic attacks or agoraphobia started, you can overcome it. Neither this blog nor any website, e-book, CD or book will be a proper alternative to competent diagnosis and treatment with a healthcare professional. However, there are wonderful resources available to complement that care.

One great new website I discovered recently - and you may know it already - is the site. As its name suggests, it's a wonderful site for all of you who are surviving panic attacks, and those you who have escaped them. Please visit that site if you haven't done so already. Or tell your friend or family member who has anxiety and panic attacks about it. For those of you who can't find a counsellor to help you, or who can't afford it, the Internet will be a great resource to use to overcome your anxiety and panic attacks.