Easier said than done for the many thousands out there suffering from this extremely debilitating condition.

To a person suffering, reading words about simple living and minimalism leading to a feeling of being on cloud nine rings hollow. Why because most people are starting at ground level attempting to achieve blissful happiness (cloud nine) where as a person crippled by panic attacks they are in a deep, dark hole with no hope of seeing light, let alone a freakin’ cloud!

My first panic attack struck me four months after I found out my wife was pregnant. Life was overwhelming. I had been trying to rid myself of hypertension, anxiety and stress for the past nine years and I now placed a deadline on myself to get it fixed before the baby arrives. Why? Because having to take care of another human being when, up until this moment, you believe you’ve done a pretty crappy job of taking care of yourself. The worry over finances, careers, day care, diapers, clothes, furniture, nursery colors- it’s daunting to say the least.

We had just got home from a nice dinner out and I was restless, I couldn’t sit still or even hold a clear mental thought. I had all these worries, thoughts and fears racing through my head, but I couldn’t grab on to a single one to make any sense of it. The more restless I became the more worried I became, as something wasn’t normal. My heart started to race, I was losing my breath, I felt like I was going to die of a major heart attack and never see the birth of my son! I tried to go on a walk to see if I can take my mind off of it, but no luck and no air to breath. We tried to go for a drive, but I ended up cutting that short as I had my wife drive me to our local fire house. I ended up in the hospital for the next two days as Dr(s) gave me every cardiac test imaginable.The diagnosis in so many cryptic words- nerves. Needless to say embarrassment was my first feeling.

The Key to Involuntary Nerves

Your involuntary nervous system (sympathetic) is exactly that- involuntary. You have no control over this portion of your body anymore than you have control over your husbands bathing frequency. These nerves lead to your skin, heart, lungs, intestines and eyes.

The involuntary nervous system is totally impacted by our MOOD. The key mood we’re focused on is FEAR. Once you become fearful (this is completely involuntary as well, sucks I know) your body releases adrenalin and the panic cycle begins. The heart palpitations, the tightening of the scalp, sweaty hands, racing heart, shortness of breath. It’s exactly like you had the sh*** scared out of you and your only reading a book, or cooking dinner, or talking with a friend.

The Fear-Adrenalin-Fear Cycle

As soon as your fear strikes, adrenalin instantly courses through your veins to these key organs. I know I was completely freaked out that I was having a heart attack or stroke. Once these thoughts enter your head, you become even more fearful, thus releasing even more adrenalin. And the cycle takes off!

I want to stress that you have no control over this cycle- it’s just sensitive nerves. And once the fear symptoms take over, your mind instantly becomes in-tuned with what the body is doing, as if listening in is going to some how help stop the panic attack!

What You’re Probably Doing.

Simple- fighting. When ever you become overly anxious you immediately try to run from the thought of having another panic attack. You completely put an all out assault on your body, trying to fight it’s natural chemical reaction. You listen in at every moment in attempt to see if your body is trying to tell you something. And when you find that something isn’t quite right- BAM! You’re down the fear highway!

STOP! These types of actions are whats fueling these panic episodes, not helping.

Four Extremely Helpful Steps

These steps are based on Dr. Claire Weekes book “Hope and Help For Your Nerves”. If you’re suffering from panic attacks I highly suggest reading this book immediately!

With these steps I was able to gain a sense of calm, enough to finally end the panic cycle. These steps are exactly opposite of what you’ve probably been doing up to this point. Running away, fighting, listening in on every second your body takes a breath and impatiently waiting for the symptoms to stop. These steps are so simple, I wish someone would have shared them with me sooner.

Step #1 Facing

Realize and face the fact that you have over-sensitized nerves, don’t run from them. Face and analyze these symptoms significantly helps reduce the adrenalin production. Why? Because your thinking rationally (I hope) enough to realize this is a trick your body is playing on you. It’s nothing more than your bodies response to adrenalin and not the dreaded heart attack.

Step #2 Accepting

Accept every single one of those strange sensations you feel. The racing heart, heart palpitations, churning stomach, headache, sweaty hands, all of them! These symptoms are only a cause of your over-sensitized nerves and nothing else. Relax, breath easy and let time pass.

A trick I found works really good is what every symptom I feel the most I actually try to mentally make it worse. So if my heart is pounding, I consciously try to make it pound more. The affect is paradoxical in that it actually makes the symptom less noticeable.

Step #3 Float Past

As these symptoms rear their nasty head, try to imagine your body floating past them. I try to imagine I floating on my snowboard in some deep, fresh powder. You can use floating on a cloud or in a pool, anything you want that is soothing to you. Key is don’t just lay in bead in terror of moving. Keep yourself occupied by doing constructive things (like reading this blog), but mentally let yourself float through the tasks.

Step #4 Patience or Let Time Pass

Realize that the episode isn’t going to pass on your time table, so be patient. Try to relax and just let time pass. Before you know it, you’ll be doing other things and not even realize that you were just in the middle of a potential panic episode.

Realize that these are just practice attempts and not tests of your progress. Don’t have the finite label on these steps. Just relax and realize that these steps will help over time.

Support System

I shutter at the thought of not having my wife, family, friends and a mentor by my side as I recovered. I implore you to share your struggles with the people you are close with. Don’t keep your struggles to yourself! It makes this entire crappy process just a bit more bearable with people you can confide in.

If you can’t or wont confide in someone close, out of embarrassment or for whatever reason and need to talk to someone who has been there, done that- contact me and I will be glad to support you along the way.

Author's Bio: 

This is a blog post regarding my panic attack experience and how I was able to overcome them.

Blog: www.minimize2elevate.com