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Tag: anxiety attacks

January 12, 2016

It is not uncommon for people to go through a period of difficulty in their lives, in which they find themselves trapped in a vicious cycle of anxious thoughts and feelings. They habitually ruminate about what could go wrong in their lives and what is currently going wrong in their lives, with no resolution in sight. A common symptom of this vicious cycle is poor sleep, this is because the brain remains active well into the night ruminating over anxious thoughts, preventing the anxious person from getting a good night’s sleep.

 

In this post I shall detail a three step process on how to bring an end to your anxious thoughts.

 

Step One.

Open a blank white notebook, pen and cup of coffee on the desk

The first step is to write down your anxious thoughts on a piece of paper. This might be problematic since if you have multiple anxious thoughts competing for space in your mind. The solution to this is to start with one thought, usually the most pressing one. By writing down the anxious thoughts on paper, it helps you to put things into proper perspective, and removes the factor of becoming easily overwhelmed.

 

Now that you have your most pressing anxious thoughts on paper, write down the most realistic worst case scenarios for that anxious thought.  It is best to limit your worst case scenarios to three. So take for example, in your place of work, your supervisor just announced that the company will be downsizing, and to make matters more worrisome a few of your coworkers have already been laid off. Your primary anxiety maybe your fear of losing your job. While your worst case scenario may by that you will lose your ability to support yourself and perhaps a family. The problem with ruminating over your fear of losing your job along with your ability to support yourself is that it will negatively affect your ability to fall asleep at night. If you fall into a pattern of getting by on less sleep than you are used to, your cognitive abilities and your body’s ability to produce energy will become impaired. Which may lead to your worst fears coming true due to reduced performance on your job.

 

Step Two.

 

Hot keys for Accept

The second step is to accept this problem as a part of your reality. Fundamentally this is the most challenging step in the process, as most people have hidden beliefs which dictate that they either “should not” suffer or are “above” suffering. One method of coming to place of acceptance with your situation is to write down on a piece of paper the following statement: “I accept this situation as is, this is my challenge and this is currently where I belong.”

 

Once you write this statement down, take ten slow breaths, breathing in through your nostrils and slowly exhaling through your mouth. Then pay attention to how you feel about the words you have just written down. If you find yourself still experiencing difficulty coming to a place of peace with these words, then you will probably benefit from working with a therapist to address what your core beliefs about challenges are.

 

If you find yourself feeling more peaceful with the primary thought which provoked feelings of anxiety for you, then you are ready to benefit from the next step.

 

 

Step Three.

 

Power of thinking and free your mind as a business or health care concept with a group of rocks in the shape of a human head glowing with a bright inner light as a symbol of freedom and intelligence.

Step three is about exploring solutions to your challenges. Notice the language has changed from anxious thoughts to challenges. This change will be seamless in your mind once you come to a place of acceptance about your worrisome thoughts. Now that you have written down your thought along with your worst fears and you have come to accept this as a proper part of your reality, exploring potential solutions is something that occurs spontaneously in your mind. In my professional experience, clients who come to a genuine place of acceptance with the challenges they experience will often come up with reasonable solutions on their own.

 

For example, reasonable solutions for the possibility of being laid off, is to review your spending habits, cut back on frivolous expenses, while beginning the process of exploring other job opportunities. It is amazing how clear our thinking becomes when we transition from a place of anxiety to a place of genuine calmness. Also, even if you are having a difficult time coming up with some solutions to what you are going through, it is important to remember that there exist people who have experienced the same types of challenges you have experienced before and subsequently found effective solutions to these challenges.

 

Ugo is a psychotherapist and life coach.

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December 21, 2015

Anything that can go wrong, will go wrong and can go wrong in your life. So what do you have to lose? When it comes to practicing the change we need to practice in our life, there are people who become frozen with hesitation because their minds are filled with all kinds of possibilities of things that could go wrong and greatly inconvenience them.

Are you one of these people? Do you have reasonable ideas about changes you can make in your life, but are stuck with fear in regards to the prospects of proceeding? If you are stuck with fear in regards to the changes you need to make in your life here are two things to consider. The first thing to consider is what do you want to happen? The second thing to consider is what would happen if you did nothing to change your situation?

So lets say you have a job, and the recent hiring of a new supervisor has turned your work environment into an abusive atmosphere. You could file a complaint with human resources, but you fear this would make matters worse between you and your supervisor. You could talk to your supervisor, but you fear this would lead to you being targeted after the conversation. You could look for a new job, but you fear that your employer could find out and you could be terminated. To make matters worse, you are now working overtime for no overtime pay, because some of your co workers where fired by the new supervisor for making mistakes on the job. Yet, the excess time you are putting in, added to the stress you are currently experiencing, is leading you to make some mistakes on the job which you are already frightened about. So what do you do?

So the first question would be, “What do you want to happen?” Most people in this predicament would answer that they want to work in a peaceful and supportive environment, regardless of where that work environment maybe. This leads to the second question, “What would happen if you made no changes, and continued with things as is?” Looking at the scenario just prescribed the answer would be that it is a matter of time before you make a major mistake on the job and the new supervisor fires you. This most likely would be the case given that you have already agreed to the poor treatment you have received on the job to date and in the eyes of your supervisor you have agreed that the value of your contribution is very low, which leads to a lack of respect by others for your work.

Now some people would interpret this scenario as a “damned if you do and damned if you don’t.” However this is not true, because the consequences for doing nothing are detrimental and more likely to happen than the consequences for doing something. This is because with doing something there does lie a possibility that things would change for the better as opposed to doing nothing where things are almost guaranteed to get worse. Further more, the moment you start engaging in exercising the change you need to make, you inevitably through research, encounter information which increases the probability that change is going to happen. So it truth, when you find yourself in a bad situation, engaging in change means “blessed if you do and damned if you don’t.”

Our responses to fear in our lives are learned, and most commonly learned responses to fear that dictate that we should always play it safe, even when we are not safe come from the irrational core belief that nothing bad “should” happen to us.

In my practice, there are evidence based cognitive behavioral beliefs that I introduce clients to, which are effective in helping people become less fear based in their thinking and subsequently their action.

Ugo is a psychotherapist and professional life coach.

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February 14, 2014

Typically most clients who struggle with panic attacks I have seen have already been to the emergency ward. Why? They found themselves experiencing heaviness in their chest, sharp pains in their chest, dizziness, nausea accompanied by a rapid increase in heart rate. Which led them to conclude that they were experiencing a heart attack, which led to trip to the emergency ward.

As you might have guessed, in all of the stories I have heard. they were all informed that their hearts were  just fine and that they had indeed experienced a panic attack. Panic attacks and heart attack symptoms are so similar that even a former client of mine who had experienced a heart attack, struggled to recognize the difference between the two.

So here are the differences between panic and heart attacks.

Chest Pains

During heart attacks, chest pain is begins in the middle of the chest. Survivors will describe this as a feeling of heaviness in the middle of the chest which compromises their breathing. The pain will sometimes radiate to the left arm, neck or back and will last for about fifteen minutes plus.

During panic attacks, the pain is localized just above the heart and doesn’t move. The pain is usually reported to come and go as the sufferer breathes and will last for less than ten minutes.

Nausea

During heart attacks, sufferers experience nausea which is immediately followed by vomiting and sometimes diarrhea. While during panic attacks, sufferers do experience nausea, but with no vomiting.

Hyperventilate

Heart attacks sufferers do not hyperventilate unlike sufferers of panic attacks who do hyperventilate.

Onset

Then there is the most defining of characteristics, which is the onset of the attacks. With heart attacks the onset is gradual and will last for hours during which the intensity of the pain and general discomfort becomes more severe. With panic attacks the onset is sudden and the intensity and severity of the pain and discomfort are high from the start and remain that way for about five to ten minutes, after which it slowly goes away. For some panic attack sufferers they report that the attack goes away as suddenly as it came.

This would make sense given that in most cases the panic ends only because the hormones producing adrenaline have become depleted, thus leaving the body no choice but to return to it’s former state. In most cases with panic attack sufferers this former state maybe a state of chronic anxiety.

Regardless, even if you recognize yourself as going through a panic attack, it is always advisable to have a medical doctor give you a thorough physical, for the sake of ruling out any medical issues.

In my next post, I will discuss how an contradictions between our realities and our thoughts can lead to chronic anxiety and panic attacks. 

Ugo is a psychotherapist and life coach.

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February 10, 2014

In looking through research for my ebook, “How to End Panic Attacks”, I have become accustomed to finding false information on websites about panic attacks. These false pieces of information have become so redundant that I have broken them down into two myths.

Myth #1 Anxiety Attacks and Different from Panic Attacks.

For example, I came across a question and answer post in which the doctor  discussed the difference between anxiety attacks and panic attacks. The author described anxiety attacks as being triggered by frightening stimuli, with the attack expiring once the shock over the stimuli is over or once you have gotten used to the stimuli. An example would be if you were startled by someone walking up behind you, your feelings of shock would go away once you turned around and saw that the person behind wasn’t a threat.

First of all anxiety attack is not an official term, no medical or psychological association uses that term. Often times when people do use the term anxiety attacks, they are referring to panic attacks, so there lies no difference between anxiety and panic attacks.

 There is a difference however between generalized anxiety and panic attacks. While people who do suffer from generalized anxiety do experience unpleasant physiological symptoms, these symptoms are nowhere as acute and as severe as panic attacks. It is also important to note that people who do suffer from panic attacks also suffer from chronic generalized anxiety between panic attacks, however not everyone who suffers from generalized anxiety suffers from panic attacks.
Myth#2 Panic Attacks Happen for No Reason
Another post I came across then goes on to describe panic attacks as unexpected physiological arousal as evidenced by rapid heartbeat, chest pains, increased blood pressure, etc. that occur for no reason. Just about the only thing the author got right was his description of panic attacks, now I shall address this second myth that panic attacks happen out of the blue. From my experience as a psychotherapist, most people who come in to seek help are clueless about how their past and present experiences have brought them to their current boiling point. They will usually proclaim that their experiences with panic attacks usually come out of nowhere. Just this idea that panic attacks come out of nowhere is anxiety provoking by itself and can itself become a triggering thought for future panic attacks with sufferers.
The best way to debunk this falsehood is to present the analogy of the boiling lobster. Put a lobster in a pot of boiling water and that lobster will resist the water with all it’s might, but put that same lobster in cool water, which you gradually heat to boiling point, and that lobster will not notice that it is being killed.
This is the best way to understand how panic attacks work, most people who suffer from panic attacks have been immersed in traumatic situations their entire lives and they don’t know any different. What’s even worse is that since their brains have become wired to exist in these traumatic situations, they seek similar situations in their adulthood. Unfortunately, much like a heroine user’s brain has become wired to survive on heroine, the point of diminishing return is always inevitable with prolonged exposure.

The good news is that the brain is neuro plastic and with understanding of oneself and triggers, people can learn to bring their experiences with panic attacks to an end and live more meaningful and purposeful lives.

Ugo is psychotherapist and life coach.

 

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