USING HYPNOTHERAPY & COUNSELLING TO MANAGE PANIC
Welcome to my Blog, using Hypnotherapy and Counselling to manage panic.
At the time of writing this Blog, England is in the second phase of it’s opening up after lockdown – it’s roadmap to recovery, which if all goes to plan, by June 21st the country will be feeling a lot more freedom as we are faced with a new normality.
Whilst Spring is often a time of looking ahead, and with the sunny days we are experiencing, it gives one the feeling of being more restored and hopeful towards the future, but for some being faced with this change, or uncertainty, can create stress, anxiety and/or even fear, to the point of feeling panic.
WHAT IS PANIC?
Panic is a response “perceived” that we are unable to cope………..it is a negative feedback loop of responses between the brain and the body. It interacts with our defence mechanism or ways to cope which keep us alive.
First of all, the body identifies what it “believes as a survival instinct”, whether we fight, flee or freeze. From here, we become aware of how our body responds … from the very first responder, i.e. heart palpitations or breathing faster to maybe sweaty palms, we decide we are anxious as a result of feeling these physical sensations and then we decide we are fearful, concluding that we can’t cope and that is when the panic happens.
PANIC CAN BE A BIG DEAL
Panic is generally not very pleasant, which may in turn, cause us to do things we wouldn’t normally do. It does though, have a big impact on our health.
It can make us feel fearful, which means our bodies can prepare for survival by flipping over into a “danger zone”. When this happens, our bodies end up switching off anything that is not necessary which means our higher cortisol functions are some of those things. Furthermore, our ability to take in detailed information from our environment, or to compare or contrast, to think logically and remember the things we have learnt or prevent us from thinking creatively, are things that go out of the window, and we don’t have access to them.
Our immunity can become compromised because our antiviral response is repressed, and our response in how we deal with infections goes into overdrive, leaving our health to operate “under par”. In bygone years, the few seconds our ancestors had in the bush allowed for the game to be over. In other words, we either managed to get away or we did not survive.
If the fear circuitry continues to be stimulated, over time this chronic stress can damage the brain and it can actually kill brain cells. This has a massive impact on our mental and physical state as well as on our immune system.
WHAT WOULD BE BEST
What would be a good idea, is to remember all the good things we have learnt and to apply them or the strategies logically and creatively, or to find solutions and be able to have our body as healthy as possible to be able to respond to those threats.
When this happens, you begin to change an old habitual response to the stimulus or fear to one which is manageable and you end up changing a pattern of behaviour over time. In this way we can gain the ability to be still, move through the fear and come out the other side. When we do this, we interrupt the pattern where it starts and that is in the body.
This would have become a habit. The most effective way to change a habit is to cause an interruption. Thus, any new behaviour we repeat creates a new neuro habit or pathway, which can be easily repeatable.
When everything around you is “out of control”, the Military for example, say go to breathing because this is the only Autonomic thing we can control consciously. This has very positive implications. The key is to slow down the breathing as comfortably, as gradually and as slowly as you can, to give your body and brain the time to gently adjust. The key to this is allowing. When you allow yourself to gradually slow down the breathing, it has an impact on the type of brain waves that predominate in the brain, their frequency, and their amplitude. This is relevant because when we are breathing very very fast and feeling overwhelmed, we are primarily in a brainwave which causes us to feel panicky and therefore overwhelmed.
Whereas as soon as you start to lengthen the breathing and slow it down, it gradually encourages a different type of brainwave which is more conducive to feeling grounded, to have information flow and have all parts of our systems communicating effectively with each other.
Another reason breathing is powerful is because when your body detects there is a threat, a threat to life – one of the first things that happens is your brain sends a message to your heart and lungs to speed up so the oxygen becomes more readily available for the muscles of your body, in case you need to run away, or need to fight. Your lungs are covered with a network of nerve cells and they have stretch detectors which detect how deeply or how fast or slow the lungs are expanding or contracting.
When you are breathing slowly and deeply, those stretch receptors send a message to the brain to say “it’s OK, everything is fine, everything is good”, and this enables you to turn off the alarm.
By looking at people in the Military or Special Forces who have developed this capability to breath, to control their breathing – has had such an effect on their system, so much so that their pulse rate goes down in the face of threat, when may be with you or I it may go up. That is how powerful allowing breathing to slow down gradually can be.
WHERE AND WHEN TO USE BREATHING
You would use a breathing technique when you begin to feel sensations in the body, i.e. heart racing and feeling a bit uncomfortable, may be a bit dizzy, then it is a good time to use a pattern of breathing that you have practised. The key here is that you have practised.
A WORD ON PRACTISE
Choose to practise at a time when you feel comfortable, just 5 minutes each time 2 or 3 times a day. This means you will quickly begin to build those neural networks, and this will develop it into a habit which means it will be easier to tap into it when you want or need to.
There are many ways to practise breathing techniques, however a good one is “square or box” breathing that the Military or Special Forces use. In yoga it is called Rhythmic or Regulated Breathing. To practise, breathe in for 4, hold the breath in for a count of 4, breathe out for a count of 4 and hold the breathe out for a count of 4.
In panic, and if you can’t remember the pattern, ensure you close your mouth because this will help you not to perpetuate the cycle plus it stops you from hyperventilating. This is something we tend to respond to with more panic. If you find you are doing OK, you can breathe in through the nose and out through the mouth. The key is to focus on the out breath, which will begin to regulate the breath. The out breath is always longer than the in breath, so it changes the balance of carbon dioxide and oxygen in your system which will help to regulate and calm down the brain waves that perpetuate panic. Remember the out breath is longer than the in breath!
HOW CAN I HELP AS A THERAPIST
As a psychotherapeutic counsellor and hypnotherapist, and whether these are used singularly or combined, I can offer you the space and support required whilst managing your circumstances, as together we explore the thoughts and feelings that have created you to feel panic, or fear in your internal world, and the belief behind it. This allows you to have the time to reflect and understand yourself, better and your situation as you are able to identify where this all comes from. This will allow you to view things in a different more constructive light as your perspective changes. By restoring balance and regulation back into your life you can personally grow, develop and move forwards in a more positive and confident manner.
Sessions are offered in a safe, calm and tranquil setting whilst offering an environment which is confidential, open, empathetic, congruent (genuine) and non-judgemental warmth.
There are other breathing techniques apart from square or box breathing, just as there are other techniques apart from breathing that can be used to help if you are experiencing panic. If you are interested in finding out more about these, or indeed would like help understanding as to why you may be feeling panic or fear in the first place, and are ready to make change, then take that first positive step today by emailing me at firstname.lastname@example.org or by giving me a call on
07973 410375 / 020 8873 2843
As in the words of Oscar Wilde “be yourself, everyone else is taken!”
(The information for this Blog can be found in an article called Coronanxiety – Dealing With Panic, listed as a resource on the website www.anxiety.org.uk)