My Panic Story: Anxiety and our Bodies

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Almost as soon as I wrote the first post about Anxiety Attacks, I had one. It’s been almost an entire month since I wrote. Back were the familiar feelings of dread and doom, a racing heart, and the sheer exhaustion from just keeping awake through the day. I had opened Pandora’s Box and the AUTOMATIC THOUGHTS were ready and willing to suggest my incompetence and my imagined journey to healing. However, it no longer gets the better of me – I had decided a number of years ago to look at my symptoms as Information and to ride the low-tide as long as it takes to make it back up!

It is so timely that I am in the middle of a number of self-reflection exercises through my Life Coaching program. I must confess that looking internally and into the past often scares me. I am always being convinced that there is going to be nothing good there. As I slowly made my way through the extensive exercises I found not only a treasury of insight, but also a major amount of freedom in so many areas. It was hard. Tiring. Exhausting. But ultimately so Freeing and Empowering and I feel so excited for the things to come!

That said, as promised, here’s some empowering information I have learned over the years about how our bodies were created to deal with Danger/Stress.

THE FIGHT OR FLIGHT RESPONSE

Our bodies are a thing of absolute genius. A masterpiece. In fact, the more we study it, the more we realize how intricately it was created to deal with the ebb and flow of life. It is designed to keep us safe when it detects any sign of danger. This safety precaution is termed the FIGHT OR FLIGHT RESPONSE.

Think about a time when you felt you were in danger. Say, you were driving and you noticed a car driving erratically in front of you.  Almost immediately adrenaline is pumped into your body – your palms start to sweat, your heart starts to race, and your body indicates to you that you need to make a decision to stay (FIGHT) or get away (FLIGHT) in order to ensure your safety. You have an inbuilt alarm system that sets off a physiological response to get you to safety. Incidentally, you will also notice this happening when you are dreaming of falling and you wake yourself up suddenly – your body is trying to get you to a safe place!

Here’s a short clip that describes this phenomena:

PSYCHOLOGICAL EFFECTS

Now, our Fight or Flight response is activated even in perceived psychological danger. If we think or believe something bad/dangerous is going to happen it can trigger our adrenaline. Like me, if you’ve ever wanted to run away from a stressful situation, then you know that your body is working correctly! If a situation/person/place/smell/sound has ever triggered your adrenaline in the past, chances are, it will again – even if there’s no real danger!

If we don’t pay attention to this response, your body with just become overly sensitive to these triggers – ANXIETY. Your body is a good soldier, ready to protect you. You need to train it up to distinguish between real and perceived danger and it will serve you well!

MY ADVICE

The next time you have an anxious moment or a situation and your adrenaline starts pumping:

1. Listen to the symptoms.
2. Take time to unpack it.
3. Be gracious with yourself. Don’t hurry yourself.
4. Journal or talk it through with someone. What happened? What did you do? How did you feel? What will you do differently next time? Is it stopping you from something bigger?
5. Create a plan of action.

It is super helpful to do this, because your brain is listening in on the conversation and taking notes! The next time, you are confronted with the same perceived danger and your adrenaline rushes; you have already given your brain a battle plan. Just like my decision years ago to ride the low-tide serves me well, so will your plan! You’ve got this!

We’re going to come across lots of stresses and stressors in our lives – if we ignore what our bodies are indicating to us, and don’t take time to unpack our reactions, we will continue to live stagnant, unfulfilled lives – living bound in Fear.

If we do pay attention to our bodily responses, and honor ourselves enough to unpack our reactions, we will live satisfying lives, free from the binding nature of ignorance.

MY JOURNEY

I mentioned that my recent journaling and self-reflecting journey has brought me much freedom and I’d like you to know that is a true working statement. It brought me insights and freedoms in real-life situations and relationships, unlocked fresh ideas for books I want to write, and blogs I want to start, and the conversations I want to have that will be life-giving. I got past the anxieties and fears into the dreams and it gave me permission to be more myself than I’ve ever been! Thanks for being on this journey with me!

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