941-462-4807 meg@megyounglcsw.com

anxiety You remember when anxiety didn’t dominate your life. You remember when you were able to do everything without second guessing yourself. But life isn’t that way anymore, is it? Now even little things, meaningless things, cause anxiety. You second guess your decisions. When you have to make a decision or do something that used to be so easy, you notice yourself getting hot and in an almost instant panic attack. So, you start avoiding people, places, and situations so you don’t have to feel this way.
 
Unfortunately, as you started pulling away from things and people you enjoy, you noticed actually feeling worse. The anxiety has dominated you. It crept into every corner of your life. How did it get this bad? When did it get this bad?
 
As you pulled away and started noticing you were actually feeling worse, your relationships with your family got more tense, you may have started feeling like a failure. You may have started asking yourself whether you are the strong person everyone thinks you are. You continue to hear people say this, but you may believe it less and less.
 
This internal struggle is killing you. It is so painful to live with and nobody seems to understand. How could they? They believe you to be so strong. They believe you to be the confident, competent one. What happened to you? You want to believe you are still this person, but you’re just not sure.
 
The racing thoughts, second guessing yourself, instant panic attacks – over “nothing,” racing heart, instantly feeling hot is hard to describe to people. It was easy to push down for awhile. It was easy to ignore or pretend it didn’t exist for awhile. But somewhere along the line it became all-encompassing and overwhelming.
 
Eventually you could not deny it to yourself anymore. Eventually it seeped out and other people saw it as well. Unfortunately, instead of this making you feel better, it just made you feel worse. Not only can they not understand, they see the “real” you now.
 
Hey, the real you IS strong. The real you IS capable. The real you IS who you once were. What is happening to you IS normal, but it does not have to define you. A lot of people who work with others in crisis feel (or felt) the same way. Many first responders, therapists, nurses, doctors, probation officers, parole officers, corrections officers have been where you are now. Many are still in therapy, and many will be here sometime in the future.
 
There is no way to predict whether someone will be so affected by their job, but there are safeguards we can put in place. If we teach new colleagues before they start the job and we open a dialogue about helping each other, we can minimize the number of suicides among our critical care givers. This is a mission I am on. I help you maintain your passion by teaching, empowering, and treating.
 
Anyway, I know that right now you are feeling unsure and unclear about where life will go from here. You want to feel confident and happy again. As you practice this technique step by step, you will gain a sense of confidence in yourself again. As you make some small changes, you will see big changes in yourself. It is entirely possible for you to believe in yourself again.
 
Keep reading to learn how to start feeling confident in yourself and your career today.
 
YOU DON’T WANT TO GO OUT, DON’T ENJOY WHAT YOU USED TO, PANIC HAS CONTROL OF YOU AND YOUR LIFE
 
When panic attacks come out of the blue for no apparent reason, it can be very frustrating to say the least. You feel like your life is not yours anymore. You don’t feel like you anymore. The biggest downside is that you feel like a failure – maybe as an employee, maybe as a spouse, maybe as a parent, maybe as a person. But this thought that you are not good enough is a very powerful feeling.
 
At the very least you doubt yourself. You find yourself second guessing your decisions and not being sure you made the right choices. From here you get down on yourself. At the very least this is a horrible feeling, but it is very likely only the beginning of the spiral.
 
Living this way is disempowering. It can be the beginning of a spiral downward that leaves you feeling empty, hopeless, and lacking faith in yourself.
 
YOU WANT ENERGY, HAPPINESS, AND TO FEEL CONFIDENT AND SURE OF YOURSELF
 
Although you struggle with anxiety, depression, and self doubt, you have the potential to be your old self. You have the potential to feel confident and sure of yourself and your decisions. You do not have to live in this pit forever. You are not alone and there is a way out.
 
When we choose to implement this skill into our lives on a regular basis, there is a possibility for freedom from racing thoughts, confidence in yourself, and enjoyment from activities and loved ones. You have the opportunity, right now, to make a small tweak in your day and see your life get back to where you want it. You have the control to take back your mind from the grips of panic and anxiety.
 
HOW TO PULL OUT OF PANIC ATTACKS SO THEY DO NOT RULE YOUR LIFE; YOU DO
 
I know that right now you may be feeling skeptical and maybe a bit hopeless that anything will work. I will be completely upfront here…nothing you do is going to make an immediate impact on panic attacks. The part of the brain responsible for setting off the panic is currently in hyper-drive and is set for survival. This means it is an instantaneous reaction that we do not have control over.
 
However, what we do have control over is what happens after the initial rush. What happens after the first 2-5 seconds. This is where we will intervene. Sticking with being up front, you will not make the shakiness disappear immediately no matter what you do. The shakiness is adrenalin which is a chemical released into the body to help with survival. Think of it like alcohol intoxication. It doesn’t matter how much water you drink, time will bring the alcohol out of your blood stream. Similarly, it doesn’t matter what technique you use, time will make the adrenalin reabsorb into your body.
 
So what then is what I’m about to teach you really supposed to do? We are going to intervene to prevent the panic attack from taking over your day and life. We are going to stop the intensity of it so you can regain control over your actions and be in control of you again.
 
The key to achieving this control is practice. Practice is whether or not you need it. Practice it 200 times per day. The more you practice it, the more available it will be for you when you need it. Don’t wait until you need it, then go searching for it. Have it readily available.
 
Making this change is not as difficult as you think because you are going to practice it so often. It is going to become second nature because you think of it so much. It is going to become easy and you’ll even start doing this without thinking about it over time.
 
When you follow a simple, step-by-step path, you will start to see your panic attacks decreasing in intensity and duration. You will start to feel more confident and more in control. You will start to have hope in yourself.
 
Take a look at these next steps to see how you can achieve freedom from intense panic attacks
 
One of the reasons you struggle with self doubt is because the brain is set to survival. We are set to think of worst case scenario. If we think everything will be great all the time, we set ourselves up for disappointment. Since the Amygdala does not know the difference between emotional and physical danger, disappointment equals danger. So, avoid disappointment at all costs by thinking of worst case scenario.
 
It does not have to stay this way when you start implementing a simple step-by-step plan. You can start to get out of the self-doubt because you will see yourself getting out of the panic attack faster and faster over time.
 
Step 1: Bring yourself back into the present
 
A panic attack comes because your brain thinks you are in a dangerous situation. Often it is a past dangerous situation you were actually in. Bring yourself back into the here and now. This is often called “grounding.” Take a few deep breaths then start with what you see. Remember that you see with your eyes, not your memory. As silly as this sounds right now, frequently in panic attacks, people lose focus of where they really are and even “see” the dangerous situation. Look around and tell yourself what you see (notice and literally say to yourself at least 5 things you see).
 
Move to what you physically feel. What do you feel on your skin? Are you sitting? Standing? Notice and say to yourself at least 4 things you physically feel.
 
Move to what you hear. Name to yourself at least 3 things you hear.
 
Move to your nose. Name to yourself at least 2 things you smell.
 
Move to your mouth. Name to yourself at least 1 thing you taste.
 
Here with Meg Young, LCSW, we discuss why this is so helpful, practice it, and come up with things that may help, including keeping something with you as a “trigger” object to doing grounding. When you start doing this regularly, you will start to notice the world around you, especially because you will be practicing this several times a day, even when you do not need it. You will notice your gratitude increasing as well.
 
Step 2: Breathe
 
After you physically ground yourself into the present moment, you want to continue to get your brain to understand you are safe right here, right now. Breathing is vital to life. As you take deep breaths, you are inviting more oxygen into your brain and into your body. Because you are taking deep, slow breaths, the brain will start to use the oxygen in an effective manner.
 
Together with my clients, we practice several different breathing techniques as there are many to choose from. Some people like sitting back in their chair with their hands behind their head, which opens up the diaphragm forcing deep breaths. Other people like the 4,7,8 technique which is breathing in to the count of 4, holding to the count of 7, and breathing out to the count of 8. Still others like visualization with their breathing, so they breathe in deep breaths of a healing color and breathe out stress.
 
When you start doing this, you will start to notice that in other parts of your life you feel more calm as well. Additionally, you start to notice the panic attacks being shorter in duration.
 
Step 3: Increase salivation
 
When you are in danger, (or your brain thinks you are in danger), all bodily functions except what is needed for survival shuts off. This includes digestion. We use saliva in digestion, so if we do not need to digest, our mouths become dry as well.
 
Once we are physically grounded to the real world around us, and have increased the oxygen to our brain and bodies, we want to get the bodily functions to turn back on. This is a good time to do something to increase salivation. Whether you take a drink of water, put a hard candy in your mouth, or do something else, we want to tell the body that we are physically safe and it is ok to salivate.
 
I help my clients identify what tool they will use to increase salivation. After that, we come up with a plan to ensure their tool is always available no matter where they may be.
 
When you start increasing salivation, you will find the panic attack is not only gone, but you are actually starting to feel calmer as well. This is a very cool time to just go inward for a minute and notice how you are doing with anxiety.
 
Step 4: Imagery
 
Remember how I said often people in panic attacks see with their mind instead of their eyes? Now that you are feeling calmer, it is time to introduce a calm, safe place into visualization. “See” a calm, safe place in your mind. Put as much detail into it as possible. What do you see, hear, smell, taste and physically feel?
 
When you schedule a session with Meg Young, LCSW, we will do this technique each session as well as you doing it at home so the kinks can be worked out and you start to see results even faster.
 
Adding this to your life will not only help you with panic attacks, but you will also start to notice more calmness and gratitude in your life. You may start to notice you are more tolerant and understanding of family and things that once bugged you.
 
This four step technique does not take more than 3-5 minutes and significantly decreases the duration and intensity of a panic attack.
 
Achieving freedom from severe anxiety can be a positive experience. It can be a fun journey to see what the world is like when you really get engaged in it. You absolutely can feel calmer and more in control of yourself and your life. Meg Young, LCSW specializes in people just like you suffering from panic attacks and anxiety over small things that you believe really shouldn’t bother you.
 
Take a look at this blog which will share the experience and outcome of a court professional I worked with recently.
 
Call me today to schedule an appointment. My schedule is limited, and I very much want to help you reach your goals as quickly as possible! 941-462-4807.

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