Tip #47: Reassociate things that give you anxiety with having no fear.
The why: In our day to day lives, there are many things that feel like the beginnings of a panic attack. We need to reprogramme our minds to tell the difference.
For instance, exercise, drinking coffee, running for a bus, kissing, walking up many stairs.
These things often get our hearts racing, our blood pumping, sweating, feeling out of breath. Which, usually, are signs of a great work out.
They are also signs of a panic attack.
You see, our brains begin to associate these symptoms with anxiety, so whenever our body begins to feel these sensations, our mind goes:
“Aha! It seems like we’re having a panic attack, I can’t believe I didn’t recognise any danger, but it’s not too late! There must be trouble around, I’ll alert everyone!”
And so you have one.
An example of this is when I was at the gym a while ago (read: going up some stairs) and I was running very hard on the treadmill (read: running up said stairs because I was late). Once I finished my session (read: got to the top of the stairs), I began to feel very, very strange indeed.
My breathing became difficult, my mind was racing and my palms were sweating. I began to have a panic attack.
When this happens, we find ourselves beginning to avoid activities such as exercise, drinking coffee (which is actually probably a good thing) and working our legs even harder to catch that bus, because they give us anxiety.
What this tells our brain is that the amygdala (Amy) is right. Exercise is scary and dangerous.
Instead, what we need to do is rebuild the associations in our brains between heart-speeding activities and good things, and disassociate them from anxiety.
The best way to do this is to expose yourself to these things in a controlled environment.
For example, try jogging on the spot until you feel out of breath, and when you feel the anxiety creep in, try the method found here in tip #7, or any method that calms you down.
Eventually, your mind will stop associating these symptoms with anxiety, and you can go back to doing what you love!