Anxiety disorders can be debilitating, but not only for the person who experiences them. It can start to take its toll on friends, family and loved ones, who’s intention is only to be of assistance and offer some kind of help.
Before reading further, I ask you this one thing: If you are reading this, either because you have an anxiety disorder, or you are struggling in trying to help a loved one who does, please approach this as the first day. Any feelings of frustration, anger or guilt… Forget them. The path of healing needs to be approached from a place of understanding.
I ask you to approach this with an open mind. What is put forward here is from our research, experience and work. There are many theories and practices, but who can say what the best pudding in the world is? Everything is about personal perspective. I do know though, even if it is the smallest thing, you will find something that helps.
With panic and/or anxiety attacks and conditions, we need to understand what the root cause of the sensations of the attack actually is. To a very large extent, it is fear based. In essence, the stress response. When an attack happens, the body and mind are experiencing the “fight-or-flight” response. This is an inbuilt response that is meant to ensure survival. When this response is triggered, the entire system prepares itself with a flood of hormones that will help us to survive a grave danger. We prepare to either fight for our lives, or run away from the danger.
The Tale of The Tiger Named Anxiety
Let’s put this into perspective, by using the example of prehistoric man encountering a sabre-toothed tiger.
We’re out collecting berries, when suddenly, just as we turn a corner, there’s the tiger!
The stress response is triggered, releasing a massive cocktail of hormones and neurotransmitters. Cortisol and adrenaline rush through the system, rapidly increasing heart and breath rate. This supplies more oxygen to the muscles in preparation to either fight or flee. Our response time gets faster and we get that boost of energy to either run faster or punch harder. These hormones also suppress our sensory nervous system, so we don’t feel the pain when we bump our toe in our hasty escape or brave battle. The body is also quite clever in knowing that we won’t be doing any long mathematical equations in this scenario, so it doesn’t waste energy on those kinds of cognitive abilities. All the body and mind are focused on is running or physically defending, so there’s not too much brain work needed.
If you look at the neural and physiological responses that happen in this scenario, and take into account that the response during an anxiety attack is very similar, it does put it into a new context and perspective.
So how is this going to help with someone who suffers from anxiety?
Defeating The Tiger
Think about this, with regards to the sabre-toothed tiger encounter, but let’s rewind to just before we spot the tiger. So…
We’re out collecting berries, when suddenly, just as we turn a corner, there’s the tiger! But… At the moment we spot it, a group of hunters appears and takes the tiger down.
That group of hunters is a heartfelt hug. That group of hunters are the gentle words, “Everything’s okay”. The group of hunters is a listening ear.
The next time your loved one or friend is in the grips of an attack, try and remember this analogy, and be their “group of hunters”. Instead of letting frustration levels rise, as they may have for so long, see if you can give them a hug with a whole bunch of love in it. That’s not always possible though, so let your hug be your gentle words in a calming tone.
Helping With Anxiety
If a loved one suffers from anxiety, there are few things you can encourage with them, that can help.
- Exercise: This doesn’t have to be a rigorous gym program. Just encourage them to do a little more exercise than they currently do. Perhaps a regular walk to the shops, or a daily stroll around a local park.
- No stimulants: Discourage any drinks with stimulants like caffeine in them like coke, coffee, tea and energy drinks. Caffeine triggers the release of adrenaline.
- Nuts: Get them to include a few tree nuts in their daily diet. Almonds are particularly good. Almonds contain the chemicals that are used by the body to produce serotonin. Serotonin imbalances can seriously affect mood stability.
- Achievement: Encourage new hobbies and activities that will allow for a sense of achievement. Perhaps building a puzzle, learning how to juggle or even hula-hooping. When we achieve something new, the sense of pleasure we experience is due to a neurotransmitter called dopamine. Dopamine makes you feel good and boosts confidence.
- Hugs and affection: That hug mentioned before, when someone is having an attack… Give hugs all the time, whether the person is in a “good” place or a “bad” place. You may have read about this already, but hugs, meaningful hugs that is, encourage the release of the hormone oxytocin. You may have heard of this before. It’s not only hugs though. A back scratch, a foot rub or even a meaningful smile can trigger oxytocin release. The positive physiological benefits of oxytocin are numerous.
- Meditation: This is not for everyone, but the benefits of mindfulness meditation have been proven time and time again.
- Body Frequency Alignment: Regular BFA treatments have shown to considerably reduce the effects of stress, depression and anxiety disorders. Treatments encourage deep states of relaxation, both mentally and physically, and have shown to have very positive long term effects.
Thank you for taking the time to read this article. Hopefully it has given you a slightly different perspective on things. I ask you to please be the “group of hunters” and let’s not worry too much about the “tigers around the corner”.
For more information about Body Frequency Alignment, please feel free to contact us.