I would tremble and shake. I would well up with tears. Hell, I would just go right ahead and cry sometimes, in front of everyone watching. I would panic and think I was dying running back to a dark corner of my room to hide from the scary world and all its terrors.
I have suffered from panic attacks and high levels of social anxiety for most of my life. I do not remember exactly when the fear jumped into my life and put me in a straight jacket; I only remember sitting down to eat lunch one day when I was in 1st grade and an older child maybe a 3rd grader said hi and asked what I was doing at their lunch period.
What a jerk! Am I right? What kind of question is that to ask a 6-year-old. I don’t have any freaking clue what I am doing anywhere, let alone at this specific lunch table. As I remember I had just left the principals office for some…uh…mental testing to see if I was an idiot or not. Haha.
I remember it was a Friday as well because I had a fresh piece of rectangle pizza on my styrofoam tray. I was excited to eat that cheesy goodness. Until, “What are you doing at this lunch period, buddy?” The nice 3rd grader asked me with a smile.
Fear punched me with the hammer of death straight into my chest. As all the air exploded from my lungs, my eyes began to fill with tears, and my face turned bright red. I couldn’t breathe, I couldn’t think, I thought I was going to die.
So, I stood up, leaving my delicious morsel of pizza left uneaten, and ran for my freaking life out of that cafeteria. I can only imagine what the kid that asked me the question must have thought.
Anyway, that was my first experience with anxiety and its terrifying nature. Unfortunately, I have spent the remainder of my life battling it. I played sports and would pass out almost every day on the practice field after practice from hyperventalating, hahaha, how ridiculous. My anxiety was kicking my butt, hard.
So, let’s get down to how I have overcome this debilitating malfunction of a natural occurrence. That is why you are reading this, right?
Air- The very foundation of life for us human being type creatures. Without air, we would be royalie screwed.
So, why is it that when we need air the most, it feels like it is the least available to us?
This question has bothered me for a long time. You see, it is part of a natural survival instinct for all of us, known as Fight or Flight.
Don’t quit here because you know all about fight or flight hang on a sec. Because I want to show you how to use this response to your advantage.
Fight or Flight- A threat appears, adrenaline courses through our body, strengthening our muscles and our senses. Our heart rate increases to help with blood flow as does our rate of oxygen consumption.
Here is the problem, we don’t have to fight anymore we are living in very peaceful, Kumbaya-esque type world, atleast the vast majority of us.
So, instead of using this massive adrenaline dump to go soaring into battle, or running in very valiant terror away from it, we kind of just stand in place our body ready to explode with anxiety.
First Hack to overcoming the Fight induced Anxiety:
Exercise- HA! do you hate me for saying it? Oh well, that is ok because it works. Our bodies need to be able to manage the massive amounts of adrenaline produced by perceived fears and exercise is the best way. And the real masterful part of it is this-
When you are excercising, you are training your most fundamental resource for your life, your air. When I work out breathing is really difficult, like I’m talking people call me Little Wheezy in the gym. Lol, bad joke.
But, it is so crucial for times we have perceived or as I call them active Threats that produce The Fight or Flight response.
When we practice not passing out and breathing calmly and with intention while exercising the next time your boss tells you-you’re an idiot and you want to punch Him/Her in the face. You will find that the anxiety of the whole situation has become much more manageable.
You can breathe through this adrenaline dump, knowing you can punch that big heavy punching bag later at the gym. It will also allow you to control your temper when you do respond so that you are not a raging monster or a terrified turtle.
You will be able to respond to your boss and let them graciously know that you appreciate their constructive criticism and go on about your day.
The response that doesn’t get talked about as much is the Freeze-
If you are like me; you gave up a long time ago running or fighting instead you opted just to stand there, eyes wide, mouth hanging open, unable to breathe or think as the terror grips you.
Freezing is common in today’s world- because we aren’t allowed to go running around punching people or running screaming down the street at a scary thought we had. We would get locked up.
Overcoming The Freeze as I like to call it, changed my Life- It again starts with The foundation for our lives
Air– A passive approach: answer this- The last time you had a panic attack did you have control of your breathing?
If you have ever had a panic attack, you would know that this is a stupid question. You simply can’t breathe when you are having a panic attack; it’s why we are FREAKING PANICKING!!!
Ok… Ok… Calm down-Breathe 🙂 How many of you ever intentionally take time to focus solely on your breath?
Intentionally breathing is what changed me from being a panicky, crying, shaking hermit, to a person who speaks in front of people every day and leads groups of people.
Are you ready for the secret to overcoming your anxiety- it worked for me.
Here it is—
Meditation- What a beautiful thing.
The practice of sitting still and focusing on breathing, or other things, but for this case breathing.
Ever since I have incorporated the intentional practice of focusing on my breathing, remember air is my life force, and I get it from breathing, my life has transformed.
I hope this doesn’t scare you off because you don’t have a mountain top or a tree to sit under. Meditation is very simple.
Start with one minute, eyes closed and just count your breaths 1…inhale…2…exhale…3…inhale…4…exhale.
Count slow, relax into it. It took me a while but now I meditate every day for at least 20 minutes a day.
And here is why Meditation helps. Everything we do is practice for those moments in life where stuff hits the fan, and we really need to show up. When the stakes are high, and it’s all up to us.
If I practice breathing like a Champion when everything is safe and fine, and the world isn’t on fire. Then, when the world does go up in flames, I can remember that I know how to breathe.
I know that I am in control of my breath and that there is plenty of air all around me.
I just have to focus on letting the air in.
Believe me; your body wants to breathe. Don’t fight it, allow it to breathe. For some of us, it takes a lot of practice to allow our selves to breathe, but that’s okay if you were like me you have plenty of time sitting alone in a dark room to work on it.
It is a practice I do every day, because I need a lot of help, haha. My mind likes to play tricks on me, so I have to learn to practice controlling the thing that seems so out of my control when the anxiety hits.
I hope that you find time to focus on the sweet breath of life today. Because I know that the next time anxiety hits, you will be a little more prepared to deal with it. I know I am, and it has made a world of difference in my life.
Have a wonderful day-Full of Air and maybe rectangle Pizza 🙂