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CAN'T CATCH MY BREATH!!!!

"Help! I'm trying to focus on stuff at home but every time I think about what I have to do, I end up thinking about something else that sends me on a tangent, then I start getting tense but I can't focus on that but I can't remember what I was thinking so I go back to what I was doing but can't remember where I was in what I was doing which is just like that time that I did this before and I can't let that happen again because that was awful but now I'm thinking in run-on sentences and beforetolongIthinksofastthati'mnoteventakinganyspacebetweenwordsandmymindwon'tjustshutupforasecondsoIcancollectasinglethought"



STOP!!!!!



Hi!




Have you ever been like this? Have you felt so stressed out that you work yourself into a MONSTER of a tizzy (that's right, I said tizzy) until you either freak out or just shut down and collapse? Well, welcome, my friend, to anxiety! Yay you made it!



Why am I congratulating you on this? Well for one, you are trying to learn something about anxiety, and thereby something about yourself. Two, you are a survivor! We as animals in the animal kingdom need to know how to survive, as I discussed in my previous post (see the link for more info on this).



What does my anxiety have to do with this? Well, what happens is actually related to your survival techniques of your Sympathetic Nervous System (SNS). This is commonly referred to as your "Fight or Flight" response, but this includes a set of 5 different reaction types, broken down into two different categories.


The first category of SNS reaction types is that of Hyperarousal. What this means, is that your body has to be ready to MOVE NOW!!! Your heart rate will climb, your breathing will get shallow (see title), and your mind will race as your blood flow increases, especially to your extremities. You have identified a dangerous threat that wants to EAT YOU FOR LUNCH!!! Well, maybe not, but your brain can't really much tell the difference right now so... LUNCH! RUN! FIGHT! AGHGHGHGHG!!! All of the chemical secretions create a physiological chain of events to secure your survival through the use of speed. This is used to either intimidate (Fight) or Escape (Flight).


If you experienced episodes like the one depicted above, you likely have experienced a panic attack. This tends to feel like your anxiety may actually kill you from some kind of heart attack or something, but don't worry (yeah, I know I said that), because there are answers and solutions for you.


The second category of (yes I really did move on after dropping that piece of knowledge on you

and not even tell you what the solutions are, read first, solutions later) reaction types is that of Hypoarousal, or shut down reactions. Have you ever thought to yourself "man, that rotting possum on the side of the road sure looks like a scrumptious meal"? Maybe don't answer that. My point is that opossums have a great skill of (you guessed it) "playing possum" where the predatory animal sees an already dead corpse and will leave it alone even though it is just a very still animal. Speaking of, have you ever heard of "deer in headlights"? These are the animalistic reactions also designed to keep you instinctually alive. These include Freeze, Submit, and Collapse. The Freeze reaction is that like the Deer and other animals with great camouflage attempting to hide in their surroundings so they are not identified, and so they can make the predator make the first move. The Submit reaction is one where you "yes" the threat away by

chucking away (or "yeeting" as the kids say these days) your needs to abate the threat of the predator.

Finally, the Collapse reaction is one that is the oldest on the evolutionary chain, and is akin to the reaction of the possum or Fainting Goat. Oh, wait, that's not a fainting goat.... Anyway...



JUST TELL ME WHAT I NEED TO DO ALREADY AND MAKE SULLY STOP FAINTING!!!!!


I can't help Sully as he is stuck in a GIF loop, but I can help you! One of the most important thing for you to learn is how to breathe with your diaphragm. For those who sing, you get taught that your diaphragm pulls your lungs down when you breathe, which helps to expand them more fully, and in turn, will push out your stomach. You should be able to see your stomach inflate and deflate like a balloon, with your chest being the LAST thing to move, if it does at all. (Don't even THINK about moving those shoulders when you breathe!!!)


If you are struggling to get this down, find yourself a therapist and bring it up with them. These and other simple techniques can help put an end to the panic and give you a handle on your anxiety. You won't make the anxiety "go away" because you're a survivor, and you don't even have to be a member of Destiny's Child. The goal is self-control, clarity, insight, and focus.


Good luck! (and don't hyperventilate!... seriously though.... just chill)

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