Self-help Lesson #16 Entrepreneurs and Panic Attacks

Anxiety & Panic Attacks – How To Reduce Anxiety and Panic Attack Symptoms

Even entrepreneurs who make lots of money have panic attacks. In a nutshell, some people want to know how to reduce panic attack symptoms, and others want to know how to reduce anxiety. We’ve talked about this elsewhere but here is a summary of everything in one place so you can practically apply it to your life.

ANXIETY can be divided into two categories:  Physical (restlessness, fatigue, insomnia, muscle tension, breathlessness or rapid heartbeat, sweating, cold clammy hands) and Emotional (fear, worrying, can’t relax, irritability, thinking something bad is going to happen).  Phobias are irrational, involuntary fears of common places, objects or situations.  Panic attacks are characterized by a sudden rush of fear and anxiety when there is no clear cause of danger.

Substantial research shows that panic attack symptoms and anxiety can be dealt with and even reduced using simple, non medication tools and techniques. How can you rapidly reduce anxiety symptoms? Here are some strategies you can use.

Deep Diaphragmatic Breathing:  

Try ten minutes of slow diaphragmatic breathing. Breath in slowly through your nose to the count of four, hold for the count of four, and slowly exhale to the count of seven. Getting the exhale breath longer than the inhaled breath is key here to telling the flight or fight system in the brain that it is time to relax. So the next time you start of feel anxious try deep breathing to handle it. Practice twice a day for ten minutes.

Physical Exercise:  

Try walking for 20 – 30 minutes once a day to reduce stress and anxiety. Bicycling, swimming, running or jogging are other examples of cardiovascular exercise you can try, but don’t underestimate the benefits of just walking!

Thought Stopping: 

Irrational and exaggerated thoughts contribute to anxiety and panic attacks. When you notice you are worrying or having anxious thoughts, pause, mentally put up a hand like a policeman stopping traffic, and firmly tell these thoughts to ‘stop’.  Then refocus on something positive and redirect your attention to something less exaggerated and more positive. Practice this. The negative thoughts and worries and anxiety have their energy deflated and you may feel less anxious.

  •  Tell yourself:  “This is not an emergency.  I feel uncomfortable, but I am not in danger.  I can keep going, even though I feel anxious”.

Pleasurable Activities: 

For the most part you will find anxiety is incompatible with joy and pleasant activities, so reduce anxiety by doing things you found to be pleasant in the past.

Relaxation Activities

i tunes, amazon and the internet has a number of effective relaxation techniques on CD or DVD or tape, some of the styles of relaxation include guided imagery, progressive relaxation and antigenic training. Try different approaches and discover your favorite. Then practice once a day for a month. The reduction of anxiety can be profound.

Interpersonal Support: 

There is evidence that those people with close friends live longer, have less stress and less anxiety. Spend time nurturing a close circle of friends. Either share your feelings with someone you trust that you can have lunch with once a week or work on making new supportive friends.

Mind-Altering Substances – not:   

Alcohol, cocaine, tobacco, chocolate or caffeine can make anxiety or depressive symptoms worse so reduce or eliminate the use of mind altering substances.

Worry Control:   

Schedule your worry. If you are a worry wart and find yourself worried about many different things in your life, make an agreement with yourself to contain your daily worrying to a half hour time slot. This way you know you’ll have time to worry and problem solve within that time slot and don’t exceed the time for that day.

“First-Aid” for Panic Symptoms:    For those of you who suffer from sudden, intense symptoms of panic there are a few critical things you can do to dramatically decrease the negative impact of these symptoms of panic attacks:

  • First: When you feel these panic symptoms beginning to happen – you need to remind yourself, “This is a panic attack.  I know what it is and I know what it isn’t.  I’m not dying and I’m not going crazy.  It will be over soon.”  (Most panic attacks last only 5 – 15 minutes.)
  • Second: Notice what happens immediately preceding a panic attack, does your stomach tighten, do you get sweaty palms, do you have a mental image of throwing up, does your heart race?  As soon as you observe these signs immediately ground yourself by using the touch point you establish during your ‘safe place’ visualizations – touching your thumb and index finger together. Notice the symptoms before the panic attack is full blown.

 Meditation:   

Your core sense of purpose, meaning, life direction and security can be strengthened by a daily practice of meditation or a focus on your personal values. (For some of you it may be prayer, for others it may be being athiest) It is important to find your own practical, individual spiritual path in life. This will reduce symptom feelings of uncertainty, alienation, anxiety and panicky feelings including tension, worry, angst, jumpy restlessness, desperate feelings, sweating, feeling trembly  and finally reducing stress. What do you do in your routine to increase peacefulness? One form of meditation that is powerful is simply sitting cross legged and watching your thoughts go by like logs floating downstream. In other words, become the witness to your thoughts rather than being the thoughts themselves. Try to do it daily.

Self-care:

Journalling, art, music, baths, adequate nutrition. Schedule in time for free time or self care every week.

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