We all worry sometimes and we can all feel anxious. It is perfectly natural to experience these types of feelings and often they can be our brain’s way of protecting us from perceived threat, danger and/or damage (either physical or psychological).
If harnessed in a useful way, worry and anxiety can provide energy and focus to help us anticipate, prepare for or avoid a potential risk to our wellbeing and esteem (e.g. worrying about an exam can provoke us to study harder, or being anxious about a job interview can motivate us to do an extra bit of research on the prospective employer to perform better on interview day).
However, feelings of worry and anxiety will also generate a ‘rush’ within our bodies which can impair cognition (making it harder to think clearly, plan and react), and can also make us feel physically edgy, unsettled and ill-at-ease.
In certain circumstances, intense feelings of worry and anxiety can ‘trigger’ an anxiety attack, whereby our system is temporarily overwhelmed by worry/anxiety sensations and an anxiety attack in itself can be a very frightening experience.
Most times the worry and anxiety is activated by a thought or series of thoughts we are having (e.g. I will fail that exam, then I will not get to university, then I will not get the job I want and so on). The good news is, over time, and often with a bit of support, we can learn how to better control and intercede when we experience ‘unhelpful’ thought cycles and we can also learn techniques to recognise and manage the ‘symptoms’ of anxiety (a racing heart, feeling physically restless etc.), to be able to distract and/or self-soothe.
It can be hard to do that though in the midst of a panic attack, so first and foremost it is important to find a ‘tool’ you can call on to help you ‘ride out’ the impact and effects of a panic attack to help you return to an equilibrium. Please be assured though, it will pass and you will get through it.
The Mind website has some great information on it regarding anxiety and panic attacks and as well as having some useful and practical tips to start you to help regain control, it also has a free factsheet for you to download,.
Click Here to visit the Mind website.