We all have moments when we’re on edge and nervous: You’re about to give a speech, meet someone new and important to you or make a significant life-changing decision. Your stomach churns, your chest and shoulders tighten and you may even feel a little bit dizzy. This is normal and can usually be handled with a deep breath and simply doing whatever you were about to do.
When anxiety gets bigger and chronic, however, it can paralyze and cripple. Those physical symptoms ratchet up in intensity. You stop doing the things that you enjoy and are unable to keep up with your responsibilities at work and home. You might become literally ill.
A panic attack is an even more intense level of anxiety. It comes on quickly and without a clear reason why– there may seem to be “no cause . ” The feeling of panic can seem out of control or even as if you’ve gone “crazy.”
The physical symptoms of a panic attack are: shortness of breath, feeling faint, heart palpitations, chest pains, sweating or chills, nausea, tingling sensations in hands, feet and face and a fear of dying, among others.
It is estimated that as many as 40 million Americans are affected by some form of anxiety or panic disorder.
As you may already know, there are many prescription and over-the-counter drugs that can be lessen the effects of anxiety and panic attacks. However, these drugs usually have unpleasant side effects and can be unhealthy if taken for longer periods of time. While it is wise to seek advice from your health care provider, know that there are natural remedies you can use to de-stress and pull yourself out of anxiety or a panic attack.
# 1 : Breathe
Conscious breathing can be your biggest ally when you feel anxious or panicked. Even if your breathing feels constricted during an attack, remind yourself to keep breath ing slowly and deeply.
Prevent hyperventilation (which can happen from repeatedly breathing rapidly) and calm down from an anxiety or panic attack, by doing this:
“…Slow your breathing down to about 10 deep breaths per minute. Breathe slowly and deeply in through your nose (try to breathe from your diaphragm rather than from your chest), hold your breath in for a few seconds and then release your breath slowly from your mouth. Your diaphragm is a big sheet of muscle just under your lungs at the bottom of your rib cage. To achieve breathing with your diaphragm, you must push your diaphragm down towards your navel, so that your stomach ‘balloons’ out, while at the same time allowing air to enter your lungs naturally. When you relax your diaphragm, it will return to its usual position and thereby expel the air slowly from your lungs. It is worthwhile practicing this technique while you are alone and relaxed, but if you find you struggle too much – don’t worry! Slow, even and deep breathing will do the trick just as well. While you are breathing out slowly, it helps a lot to silently say (or think) something calming like ‘relax’.”*
# 2 : Alternative Remedies
Go to your local natural foods store and purchase supplies for an alternative remedies “first aid” kit. Herbs, essential oils, flower essences and other alternative health remedies are gentle and work with your body naturally.
Include these items and others :
Bach Flower Remedies — Rescue Remedy, Rock Rose, Aspen
Essential Oils — Lavender, Vanilla, Rose, Chamomile
Herbs — St. John’s Wort, Valerian, Passionflower, Hops
Research these remedies before trying them so that you know proper dosing and consult with your health care professional if you have questions.
# 3 : Relaxation and Meditation
Because anxiety and panic are both related to stress of various kinds, incorporate some form of relaxation and/or meditation into your daily life.
Establish the habit of quieting your mind by meditating 5 or 10 minutes each day during your lunch hour or before going to sleep at night. You can repeat a soothing mantra to yourself or focus your attention solely on your breathing.
There are many guided relaxation and meditation program s available online and in libraries and bookstores. Make these easily available and listen to them when you feel anxious or panicked.
# 4 : Center yourself
In the middle of a panic attack, guide yourself back to your center — that place within you that feels safe and at ease. When you’re NOT feeling anxious, make a list of any activity that helps you calm down and return to your more confident self.
This could be the feel of grass under your bare feet, fresh air, a hug from someone you love, a certain song, prayer or poem or a particular essential oil or herbal remedy such as those mentioned above.
Discover what brings improvement and greater ease to you when you feel anxious or panicked and then remember them and do them.
*Breathing instructions for anxiety and panic attacks can be found here: www.nativeremedies.com