How to deal with anxiety and panic attacks.
A lot of people in my network have been suffering from anxiety and panic attacks lately and reaching out to me to ask for help.
Some of you may know that I was pretty crippled by middle-of-the-night panic attacks for a couple years and struggled with almost constant low-grade angst along with that.
It was rough.
I handled much of that energy moving through my body by doing 12 hours a week of weightlifting and strength training, and by compulsively buying plane tickets to the ends of the earth.
That wasn’t really solving my problem but it was keeping me somewhat sane.
There are a lot of other options out there that don’t require prescription meds, and lately, I’ve seen many people resolve the symptoms of anxiety and the inflammation that comes with it by using CBD oil.
Personally, I recommend a different approach. To handle the actual panic attack, something as simple as the 4-7-8 breathing method is hugely effective for activating your parasympathetic nervous system. Breathe in for four counts, hold for seven, and exhale for eight counts. Repeat as many times as necessary. As a practice you could breathe like this for five minutes a few times a day. It’s particularly great first thing in the morning and just before bedtime. This used to be the only thing that would help me get back to sleep.
This method, however, only addresses the somatic symptoms. If there is something going on in your body, your mind, or your environment (internal or external, relationships, job) that is activating these symptoms, which is most likely the case, deeper work must be done.
My panic attacks, which were destroying my sleep, eventually went away through consistent meditation and rehauling my diet. The low grade anxiety was resolved through coaching with a strong focus on my physical and emotional experience.
As it turns out the anxiety was a neurological response to a fear of betrayal that was activated literally any time I felt vulnerable.
Healing from this experience literally changed my life and that’s why I say the money I have invested in my personal growth was worth every penny. Because my sanity and my sleep and my health are my lifelines. Even if I weren’t a coach now supporting other people through similar work, that would still be true.
I almost never experience any form of angst anymore (except when I’m about to go on stage to do a talk!) and I credit that to the investment I have made in some really basic things:
Moving my body
Getting the emotional/psychological support I needed to actually heal and expand my capacity
Eating an abundance of fruits and vegetables (which will change your gut microbiome in a very short period of time, thus altering any adverse genetic behavior that prevents absorbing or metabolizing vitamins and nutrients from the food you’re eating)
This article about stimulating the Vagus nerve is also helpful if you’re into science and why something as simple as a long exhale can have a profound impact on your nervous system and inflammatory response.