In the past I have suffered from anxiety and panic attacks myself, as have some of my family, friends and children of friends. More and more I find clients asking me for suggestions on how to ease this issue, which is what prompted me to write the article, ‘Quick fix aids for anxiety and panic attacks’ on the AbsolutleyLondon.com/wellness website. In that article I listed some suggestions on how to manage a panic attack including; breathing techniques, remedies, distraction techniques and the importance of exercise.
Over the years my toolkit for dealing with these issues has expanded considerably. I hope sharing this list provides you with one or two options that you can add to your own toolkit, be it for you, your family or your friends. They are all methods which can help ease the symptoms of both anxiety and panic attacks but more importantly, they may even provide the opportunity to eradicate these frightening issues from your life for good.
A problem shared...
There has been great emphasis placed on this recently with Mind Over Marathon as shown on the BBC in April 2017 and the Royals raising awareness for the charity Heads Together. Sharing our troubles is a vital part of releasing feelings of fear and anxiety as well as reducing feelings of isolation. Here are a few different options on how you can begin to do this:
- Friends or family - this is a good place to start if you are apprehensive about counselling. You may, or may not, be able to solve the problem by sharing it but vocalising issues will certainly help. Allowing negative feelings to fester inside can affect you on all levels - mentally, emotionally and physically.
- Professional help – sometimes we need professional guidance to help us unravel our feelings. This is where counselling and psychotherapy can be particularly helpful in understanding any behavioural patterns and origins of fear. Professionals can also offer tools to help their clients find ways to start the process of moving forward. You can find professional psychotherapists through your GP, by word of mouth or by visiting online sites such as psychotherapy.org.uk.
- Support groups – it can also be helpful to mix with others going through similar situations to yourself as sharing experiences helps you feel less alone in your struggles. Support groups can be found through your GP or online through anxietyuk.org.uk or nopanic.org.uk.
There are many forms of meditation, so if you have tried one and struggled don’t let that put you off. Try different versions until you find one that works for you. The benefits are immense. It is not just calming the mind, it can also have huge benefits on a physical level such as reducing stress and lowering blood pressure. I liken it to shutting down the hard drive for a while and letting everything settle, so that when you re-boot everything starts again afresh giving you a clearer perspective. Daily meditation is extremely helpful in reducing anxiety.
- Guided meditations - these are meditations where someone is talking over gentle music, helping you quieten your mind and placing yourself in a peaceful place. Being taken on a journey helps you concentrate your mind on one thing, allowing the rest of your thoughts to fall into the background for a while. There are many guided meditations on the market. I have some good starter suggestions, as well as some more spiritual versions, which I am happy to share if you email me.
- Local meditation courses – you can find local meditation classes by searching online. There is a wide variety available these days so pick the one which resonates with you. If you live near Balham, SW London I will be starting courses later in the year. If you email me I will forward the dates to you, once confirmed.
- Apps – ‘Headspace’ and ‘Mindfulness: the art of being human’ are two popular meditation apps at present. They work well for helping you tune into mindfulness in general as well as the actual meditation process.
Hypnotherapy & Relaxation
- Hypnotherapy cds and downloads – there are a variety of hypnotherapy cds and downloads to help with anxiety which can be found by searching online and on Amazon. I suggest you experiment to see what works best for you.
- Hypnotherapy consultations – you can also visit a hypnotherapist to help with panic attacks and anxiety, if you would like to resolve a specific issue. Finding the right person is often done by word of mouth by searching online. I recommend you check they are registered by a reputable governing body, such as: general-hypnotherapy-register.com.
- Relaxation cds and downloads - these are also easily purchased online. Check reviews first to get an idea of whether they are good and to see which feel right for you.
- Reiki – an increasingly popular, ancient Japanese energy healing technique found by many to be very supportive in reducing anxiety, encouraging better sleep and balancing the emotions. For Reiki in Balham, SW London, visit sophierohealing.com or email me.
- Crystal healing – crystals and their ancient healing vibrations can be very beneficial in shifting long term and present emotional blocks, creating calm and supporting the body’s natural healing process. For Crystal Healing in Balham, SW London visit sophierohealing.com or email me.
- Yoga – there are many different types of yoga available today. You are bound to find one that suits your needs by researching on the internet. Yoga is fantastic for calming the mind, helping with sleep, stretching out and general well being. Restorative yoga is particularly helpful for releasing stress and anxiety.
- Massage – a fantastic way to relax, especially if you go for an Aromatherapy Massage and ask for essential oils that are calming to the emotional and nervous systems.
- Homeopathy – a natural form of medicine which works through both long term and short term complaints, getting right to the source of issues and encouraging the body to heal itself. a-r-h.org; homeopathy-soh.org; britishhomeopathic.org.
- Tapping/Emotional Freedom Technique - a technique where pressure/tapping with the fingertips on our energy meridians is believed to help breakdown emotional blocks. This can be very effective in releasing trauma, fear and behavioural patterns. You can have private one-to-one consultations as well as be taught to do this for yourself through the EFT app supplied by The EFT Centre in London, or visit their website theeftcentre.com.
- Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) – this is one of the most widely used therapies for anxiety disorders, helping you change patterns of thinking or behaviour that are at the root of your issues. For accredited CBT therapists visit this website: nhs.uk/conditions/cognitive-behavioural-therapy.
- Reflexology – an ancient Chinese therapy which is non-intrusive and believed to reduce stress, anxiety and other ailments. Pressure is applied to specific ‘reflex’ points on the body, each point relating to a specific part of the body with a view to restoring proper function of internal organs and restoring the body’s natural energy flow. I would recommend find a Reflexologist that is registered with the The Association of Reflexologists.
- Tai Chi – often referred to as Meditation in Motion, this is an ancient Chinese tradition using a graceful, steady flow of continuous, slow movements, along with deep breathing. Originally used for self-defence, Tai Chi has been found to be an effective and gentle way of supporting stress and anxiety conditions, whilst also increasing flexibility and balance. To find classes and workshops near you in the UK visit taoist.org/uk/locations.
Nutrition There is a huge link to anxiety and diet. Below are a few suggestions on how to alter your diet but the best thing to do is see a professional nutritionist who can work with you to find a diet that can help you feel calmer and less stressed. It is important to find someone that is registered with a professional body such as; the Association for Nutrition; The Association of UK Dieticians or the British Association for Applied Nutrition & Nutritional Therapy. Things to try at home:
- Blood sugar levels – fluctuating blood sugar levels can also exacerbate anxiety and panic attacks so try to eat regular meals to keep your blood sugar levels steady.
- Serotonin releasing foods – it is believed that serotonin plays a major part in your mood, anxiety and happiness and that eating foods such as eggs, salmon, turkey, cheese, nuts, seeds, blueberries, pineapple, bananas can increase your serotonin levels.
- Teas – particularly useful as they help keep you hydrated (de-hydration does not help anxiety). Camomile is relaxing for the muscles as well as the nervous system and soothes the mind and emotions. Valerian, peppermint and lemon balm teas are also found to be calming.
- Things to avoid – stimulants such as caffeine, high sugar foods, alcohol and smoking which can make anxiety panic attacks worse, so avoid where possible.
- Fresh air - getting out into the fresh air oxygenates our brains, opens our lungs and helps lift our mood. Take a few long, slow deep breaths when you are outside. Being out in the sunshine also lifts our spirits as well as giving us much need Vitamin D.
- Walking – walking in nature helps us find peace and is remarkably uplifting. If you can’t get out to the countryside or park, simply the motion of walking, even if through the streets can quieten our minds. Don’t just walk, be mindful as you walk and you will see the magic of the world around us. The way the light falls, the clouds in the sky, birds, plants and trees. Enjoy the miracle of each season as it comes and goes. You would be surprised how much beauty we take for granted and walk past every single day.
It can be hard to get motivated when you are struggling with these issues, so perhaps start by trying just one of the methods to see if it helps. Ask yourself which ones feel right for you, you would be surprised how accurate your gut instinct is. If you are feeling stronger you could always move on to trying more.
If you need help finding the right support in London, do get in touch. I have quite a few contacts so may be able to point you in the right direction or find someone who can. However, if you have ongoing issues, it is always advisable to consult your GP and keep them informed, even if you are looking for complementary therapy alongside traditional medicine. Sending love and healing to you all.