Anxiety….that pit in your stomach, hands sweating, heart beating, dizziness, dry mouth and racing thoughts.  No matter how much you tell yourself that everything is okay, to calm down and breathe, your body reacts as though there is a 5 alarm fire about to happen. You remember the last panic attack with dread, and anticipate the same outcome. So you make a quick escape from the grocery store, the crowded bus, get off the highway or simply stay home and in doing so, you find that your body begins to settle down and you feel more comfortable again….and the endless cycle of panic and avoidance continues. 

Anxiety and Panic Attack Counselling

This often leads to feelings of self-doubt, more worry, discouragement and feeling trapped by your body’s urgent messages that something terrible is about to happen. You therefore become creative in avoiding situations and events that might lead to a panic attack and over time your world becomes smaller with fewer and fewer options.

Many people experience panic for many months or years before seeking help. Sometimes people begin to self-medicate with alcohol or drugs to cope with the anxiety, only to find that this strategy doesn’t entirely work either.  So what can be done?

“You gain strength, courage and confidence by every experience in which you really stop to look fear in the face. You are able to say to yourself, ‘I have lived through this horror. I can take the next thing that comes along.’ You must do the thing you think you cannot do.”

Eleanor Roosevelt

While learning anxiety coping strategies such as deep breathing, challenging one’s thoughts and relaxation skills can be helpful, they most often are not enough to eliminate anxiety and panic attacks.  Dr. Reid Wilson, author of Don’t Panic, proposes that we need to change our relationship with anxiety.  It’s a bit of a paradox in working with anxiety and panic. Instead of resisting your anxiety, with support and practice you can learn to move into your fear, noticing your symptoms and remain in the driver’s seat of fear instead of in the backseat and out of control.  Does this take some commitment and courage?  Yes!  But you can start wherever you are, and step-by-step you will experience relief and conquer your fears.

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