Out of nowhere, your heart starts racing. Your palms are sweating and you feel like the room is spinning. You feel totally out-of-control.
For many of us, this is what it is like to experience a panic attack.
For some, it happens when we must give a speech or a presentation in front of a group. For others it comes when we feel unprepared for an exam. For me, it often comes when sitting in a quiet group of people, such as in church or while attending a wedding. For those of us who struggle with panic attacks, our frightening, yet harmless, symptoms can sometimes come seemingly out of nowhere.
I have struggled with anxiety and panic since high school. I remember sitting with my oboe during morning band rehearsal, and out-of-the blue, my body would react as if an armed terrorist had just entered the room. This began to happen almost daily, in my other classes as well. I began to fear the panic attacks themselves, and this worry alone would often cause an attack. For many people, panic attacks can be frightening and downright debilitating.
[Disclaimer: I am not a medical doctor, nor am I a specialist in panic disorders. However, I have experienced anxiety attacks, and I believe that there are many ways in which our Lord cares and helps those with anxious thoughts.]
Have you experienced any of the panicky feelings I have described above?
Perhaps you haven’t felt the physical symptoms, but you are a chronic worry-wart and you allow excessive anxious thoughts to pervade your daily thinking.
Rest assured, loves - Jesus is our true strength.
Here are a few ways in which I try to battle feelings of worry and panic:
ONE: Stop. Close your eyes. Take a deep breath.
Deep-breathing doesn’t often always do the trick, but taking long, slow breaths through the nose and out of the mouth is proven to have a calming effect on the body. I try this when I feel a slow building of anxious feelings coming on, and it often staves away other symptoms.
TWO: Focus your thoughts on something TRUE and comforting.
Panicky feelings are a lie. A big fat LIE. There is no rational reason for a body to respond the way it does during a panic attack. Therefore, what must we do? Send that lie flying by reminding ourselves of something TRUE. What is more true and comforting than the love of our Savior? It can be difficult to focus on something specific when one’s head is racing – yet repeating a mantra over in your head such as “Jesus is with me” or “Jesus loves me” can help to send stressful thoughts into oblivion.