Are you having a panic attack?

Posted September 27th, 2017

Anxiety Wordcloud

A panic attack is an extremely intense psychological event. An overwhelming wave of fear may strike without warning or apparent reason, but with an intensity that is both debilitating and immobilising. In fact, the sudden onset of severe anxiety may make you think you’re going crazy or are about to die.

You may only ever have one panic attack or suffer from recurrent episodes that may be triggered by particular circumstances that make you feel endangered and unable to escape. Triggers can be specific situations that are particularly fear inducing to you, such as public speaking, being stuck in a lift or crossing a bridge.

Whether you are normally a happy and healthy person or your panic attacks are part of a wider mental health issue such as panic disorder, social phobia or depression, it is treatable and the sooner you seek help, the better. Coping strategies can be used to deal with the symptoms, while effective panic attack treatment can help you regain control of your life.

Signs and symptoms

A panic attack develops suddenly, typically reaching its peak within 10 minutes and lasting about half an hour. Perhaps surprisingly, the signs and symptoms are physical rather than mental and often mimic very serious health issues. Typical symptoms include:

• Chest pains
• Shortness of breath
• Dizziness or fainting
• Muscle weakness
• Racing heart
• Tingling or numbness in hands/feet
• Hot and cold flushes
• Nausea
• Trembling all over
• Feeling detached from reality

Could it be a heart attack?

Since the signs and symptoms of a panic attack are so physical and severe, it is easy to mistake them for heart attack symptoms. However, there are some important differences:

• Heart attack induced chest pains tend to radiate more through the shoulder
• Heart attacks peak straight away while panic attacks tend to peak after around 10 minutes
• Heart attacks may involve vomiting

Panic attacks often cause incredibly intense feelings of impending doom, like something terrible is about to happen. Unsurprisingly, many panic attack sufferers will head straight to the doctor or hospital to get treatment for what they think may be a life threatening medical emergency.

Admittedly, the symptoms can be confusing to the lay person and often the only way to obtain clarity when you’re having an attack is to seek medical advice right away.

How to treat panic attacks

Panic attacks can be treated successfully with counselling and psychotherapy to help sufferers understand and manage symptoms, overcome attacks and reduce the frequency of occurrences. Panic attack management therapies can also help with the development of skills needed for coping successfully with any future attacks.

Panic attacks can be treated successfully with counselling and psychotherapy to help sufferers understand and manage symptoms, overcome attacks and reduce the frequency of occurrences. Panic attack management therapies can also help with the development of skills needed for coping successfully with any future attacks.

Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) is generally viewed as the most effective psychotherapy for dealing with panic attacks and panic disorder. Focusing on the thinking patterns and behaviours that bring on panic, CBT can help to reshape these thought patterns. Relaxation training and exposure therapy may also be used to help overcome the problem.

Psychotherapy is a useful tool to help panic attack sufferers understand the root of the problem through childhood experiences, previous personal difficulties or past relationships and remove any underlying issues that may give rise to panic.

Finally, it is useful to have an arsenal of self-help tips at your fingertips to help you cope with anxiety and minimise your exposure to it. These include:

• Deep breathing exercise to relieve hyperventilation and calm yourself down
• Relaxation techniques (e.g. meditation, yoga) practised regularly to combat stress
• 30 minutes of regular exercise a day (e.g. walking, running, swimming, dancing) to relieve anxiety
• 7-9 hours of good quality sleep per night to maintain a healthy balance
• No smoking, alcohol or caffeine or other stimulants since these can provoke panic attacks in some people
• Social contact with friends and family to avoid isolation induced anxieties
• Education about panic and anxiety to help you recognise symptoms

Filled Under: Anxiety, Panic

Procrastination and 7 top tips to get over it

Posted July 7th, 2017

‘Tomorrow is a mystical land where 99% of all human productivity, motivation and achievement is stored’, it says on the internet. Put another way, if your mother ever told you to never put off until tomorrow what you can do today, she was right.

Many of us suffer from procrastination – a myriad of avoidance techniques we have mastered to not do what we know in our hearts of hearts should be done. If you’re feeling frustrated with yourself about the lack of progress that comes from dithering over a work assignment to forever postponing DIY jobs at home, or you’re stressing about continually dodging the bigger decisions that you know full well need to be taken – you might need help.

We’ve come up with 7 life coaching tips to help you get over your procrastination habit, take charge of the tasks in hand and get on with your life. Not only will you find yourself becoming more productive, you will love the new found focus and energy that propels you towards your goals.

1 – Overthinking creates problems that were never there.

There is a fine line between good planning and overthinking every aspect. Planning is a necessity, of course, but you can never plan for every eventuality or avoid every mistake. Spending too long on creating the perfect plan is counterproductive. It’s time to stop thinking and start doing.

2 – Don’t make a mountain out of a molehill.

The longer you dwell on a particular thing, the bigger it becomes in your head. If the issue in question is a difficult one, the problem will grow and grow until it becomes a monster so large you’re even more afraid to tackle it. No matter how you feel, tell your negative inner voices to be quiet and force yourself to just make a start.

3 – You don’t have to see the whole staircase, just take the first step.

The distance between where you are now and where you want to be (the top of the stairs!) may look overwhelming – but only if that’s where you look. Rather than focusing on the end result, break it down into smaller chunks and take it one day at a time. Taking the first step will make you feel good and lead to you wanting to take the next step and the one after that. Q: How do you eat an elephant? A: One bite at a time.

4 – Swallow the frog first.

The ‘frog’ is your biggest and most important task of the day, the one that you want to put off the most. It is also the one task that can have the greatest positive impact on your day. Whether you’re dreading making an important phone call or doing your tax return, do this first. You will feel a great sense of relief once you’ve accomplished the task, and the rest of your to-do list will seem a doddle in comparison.

5 – Nothing happens until you decide.

Procrastination is the feeling of wanting to do something but not taking the action that aligns with that thought, which leads to inner conflict. Don’t get lost in limbo land. Instead, boost your confidence and self esteem by taking action – any action – and teach yourself that you can be a decisive person. By repeating this pattern time and again, your prophesy will be self-fulfilling.

6 – Face your fears and do it anyway.

Of course, it’s always hard to make mistakes, to get hurt, to take responsibility for your actions and to risk looking like a fool. But if that is what’s stopping you from putting yourself out there you’ll never know whether you could have succeeded. In order to live fully and without regret, you may need to push yourself outside your comfort zone and just go for it. Failure is the mother of success, according to an old Chinese proverb.

7 – Finish what you started.

Taking the first step of a task may be difficult but getting to the end of the task may also be a problem. If the energy has gone and you never finish what you started, you can experience feelings of self-doubt, fatigue and stress. Review the job in hand and decide whether it really needs finishing – there’s no law that says everything must be completed. If it doesn’t require finishing, then terminate the project. If, however, it does need finishing, give yourself one last push and feel a whole lot better having achieved your goal.

Filled Under: Anxiety

Breathe yourself calm

Posted May 15th, 2017

What could be easier than breathing? We do it all the time, and yet not all breaths are created equal.

Deep breathing can be a great tool to use when you’re in a state of anxiety, high stress or are dealing with a panic attack. The simple action of taking deep breaths is soothing and calming on body and mind.

If you want to use your breath to calm yourself, all you need to do is to stimulate the right part of the body’s nervous system. The parasympathetic nervous system controls our rest, relax and digest response. When it is activated, the body is in a state of calm, with dilated blood vessels and lower blood pressure, a slow heart rate and calm breathing.

How to get there? Your outbreath needs to be slightly longer than your inbreath. This stimulates the vagus nerve, which runs from the diaphragm all the way to the brain.

There are many different breathing exercises you can try to put your body into a parasympathetic state, but the simplest is this one:

  1. Find a comfortable place where you can sit quietly in a relaxed pose but with your spine upright. Close your eyes and begin breathing normally through your nose.
  2. Next, take a deep, slow breath in through your nose counting to two, hold for one count, and exhale counting to four, then hold again for one count. Make sure you breathe smoothly and evenly.
  3. If this feels too easy, you could try inhaling for 4 counts and exhaling for 6, or even 6 inhales and 8 exhales, just so long as it still feels comfortable.
  4. On the outbreath, try experimenting with breathing our through your nose, through pursed lips or through your mouth to see what feels best for you.
  5. Do this breathing exercise for a minimum of 5 minutes and notice a real difference in your state of mind.

If you find breathing exercises helpful to combat stress and anxiety in your life, you may wish to try these 3 video guided exercises:

Filled Under: Anxiety, Happiness

CBT FOR ANXIETY – HOW LONG WILL IT TAKE?

Posted March 16th, 2016

cognitive behavioural therapy anxiety how many sessions

When you suffer from anxiety, you want to feel better as soon as possible.

These days many people seek cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) as their treatment of choice for anxiety issues. This is because evidence based research demonstrates that CBT for anxiety can be a highly effective treatment and GPs often recommend it.

How long will it take? This is a question many people ask when seeking treatment. (more…)

Is Cognitive Behavioural Therapy More Effective Than Medication in Treating Anxiety?

Posted March 17th, 2015

cognitive behavioural therapy for anxiety

The strong feelings of fear, unease and worry that are hallmarks of anxiety can have a very negative impact on your life. Making the decision to get help for anxiety is a positive step. At the same time, it merits the question: what treatment should you choose?

Two of the most popular treatments for anxiety are Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) and certain types of medication. This is due to the fact that both methods demonstrate good evidence in the successful treatment of anxiety.

However, is CBT more effective than medication in treating anxiety? How can you choose between the two, and when should you use both? (more…)

Cognitive Distortions and Thinking Errors – How Can CBT Help?

Posted November 28th, 2014

Cognitive Distortions cbt

 

When you’re feeling worried or stressed, would you say your thoughts are mostly positive or negative? If you’re like most people, negative thoughts run rampant and you might feel that you have trouble controlling them.

Some people who suffer from anxiety or depression say they wish they could “shut off” their thoughts. Often, it is actually these thoughts rather than the specific incident or situation that is causing the anxiety or depression in the first place. (more…)

Ten Tips For Managing Panic Attacks

Posted November 16th, 2014

10 tips for managing panic attacks

Once the feelings of panic start to set in, these thoughts have a way of taking over and can give rise to intense fear and pain. When a panic attack strikes, sufferers are often too overwhelmed by the panic to feel able to think about ways to manage the situation.

If you are armed with some coping strategies before a panic attack strikes, it can be possible to reduce the intensity and even prevent panic from happening at all.

Here are ten useful tips for dealing with panic. Read this list and keep it handy so you can be prepared the next time you feel panicked. (more…)

Filled Under: Anxiety, Panic
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How Cognitive Behavioural Therapy Can Help Treat Anxiety Disorders

Posted November 2nd, 2014

CBT for Anxiety

Anxiety disorders can seriously affect your quality of life. If you worry nonstop, have obsessive thoughts or panic attacks, or suffer from a debilitating phobia, you might be one of the many people who suffer from an anxiety disorder.

Although this diagnosis might sound worrying, it can be helpful to identify the problem so that you can then take the necessary steps to start enjoying your life again.

Cognitive Behavioural Therapy is highly effective in helping people overcome anxiety disorders.

 

(more…)

Anxiety In The UK – Infographic

Posted August 27th, 2014

anxiety infographic

 

 

Understanding anxiety is the first step to overcoming it.  If you don’t understand the problem you can’t fix it!

 
 
 

The following info-graphic provides a succinct guide to help you understand the prevalence, causes and nature of anxiety and ways to overcome it.

 
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Filled Under: Anxiety, Infographics