4 Things That Trigger Panic Attacks and How to Handle Them
Panic attacks are no fun – as you’ll know if you’ve ever found yourself in a stressful situation with your head swimming, your heartbeat all over the place and your breathing out of control. What some people don’t realize when they come to my hypnotherapy practice in London and Winchester is that panic attacks are always rooted in something very specific.
If you’re having a panic attack on a train platform, it’s probably because at some time in your life there was an incident on a train, on a train platform, or perhaps with a group of policemen (let’s say the Old Bill are thundering down platform 3 towards you). Maybe it’s the sound of a big engine or the smell of diesel: something in your past is linked to feelings of discomfort/stress/trauma, and you have been reminded of it right now. There’s an acronym we use for panic attacks and it is EMLI.
1. E is for Event
The ‘E’ stands for ‘event’, as I’ve just explained. None of us are born with a propensity for panic attacks: something has happened which effectively traumatized you.
2. M is for Meaning
The ‘M’ is that we make ‘meaning’ in that event; you tell yourself that this environment makes you have a panic attack, or this smell or that noise. For people who have PTSD, noise will very often trigger that reaction, and a panic attack is the same as post-traumatic stress, incidentally, it’s just got a different label.
3. L is for Landscape
The ‘L’ is that the attack changes the ‘landscape’ of your body. Your body is flooding itself with adrenaline, so it’s case of flight or fight or freeze in terms of what you perceive your options to be. Also, cortisol, the stress hormone, is flooding your body, and that’s why it feels so bad. A panic attack also changes the landscape of the brain.
The amygdala, which is about the size of a grape, regulates all of our emotions, and once you’ve had the initial traumatic experience, the amygdala is a little like a radar that becomes switched on. From then on it will be scanning constantly for an event that might be like the first one. People hear a noise or see something that is reminiscent of the original trauma, the receptor is activated, and it gives them the response.
4. I is for Inescapability
The ‘I’ is the idea of ‘inescapability’: you feel trapped, either physically in your body or the situation that you’re in – or a combination of the two. It all happens in a fraction of a second, leading to a panic attack.
What we’re now able to do via techniques is actually switch that response off; certain techniques help to dissolve the protein that holds that receptor in place and that’s how you can disconnect a panic attack – it forms a key part of our hypnotherapy for panic attacks treatment.
What’s interesting is that deep breathing isn’t recommended for panic attacks, what’s better is to stop breathing, to hold your breath. When people breathe too much they over-oxygenate their blood, which is likely to make a panic attack worse, whereas if you stop breathing the carbon dioxide level increases and that can help stop the panic attack.While holding your breath may help alleviate the symptoms of the panic attack, it won’t get rid of what’s causing the panic attack. For that, a session or two with a hypnotherapist will normally get to the root of the problem and help to remove your established response to given situations.
NBA Player Carl Landry Demonstrates the Value of Persistence in Life and Work
Written by: Jon Sabes
When you meet Carl Landry, stand-out college basketball player and nine-year NBA player, you imagine that becoming a professional basketball star was a straight forward run for the 6-foot-nine-inch power forward.
However, when you go deeper into Carl’s background, becoming a NBA professional was less than certain and little came easily to the 33-year-old from Milwaukee:
- He was cut from his high school team as a freshman and averaged less than ten points a game when he did play as a senior.
- He started his college career not at Purdue, but a junior college where it was not clear he would play.
- When he finally got to Purdue, he tore his ACL in his knee his first year and reinjured it the next year.
- While his family held a party for him the night of the NBA draft, he slept in the Philadelphia airport after missing a flight following a workout for the 76ers.
- In the NBA playoffs, Carl had a tooth knocked out, but came back in the same game to make a game-winning blocked shot as the Rockets beat the Utah Jazz 94-92.
Landry, who I interviewed on my podcast, Innovating Life with Jon Sabes (www.jonsabes.com), is a remarkable example of the value of “persistence.” In a time where technology creates the image that anything is possible at the touch of a button, persistence is an under-appreciated trait. When I spoke with Carl, I clearly saw someone for whom success has only come through a force of will that made him a NBA player, but it also made him a better player every year he played. That’s the kind of personality that has produced greatness in business as well as sports.
Carl was, in fact, drafted that night he spent in the airport. The Seattle Supersonics chose him as the 31st overall pick and then traded him to the Houston Rockets where he rode the bench for much of the first half of the season. When All-Star teammate Yao Ming was injured, he stepped in and played a key role in the Rockets astonishing 22-game winning streak (the third longest streak in NBA history). And, that season, after sitting on the bench for 33 of the first 36 games, he was named to the All-Rookie second team.
Carl was the first in his family to go to college. “I told myself that this was my ticket out, so I did everything I possibly could to be the best person in school and also on the court,” he said.
His family life in Milwaukee showed him what he didn’t want to do. “Just being honest with you, seeing some my cousins, peers, they went to work for jobs paying six, seven dollars an hour or they didn’t go to work at all and then living off welfare. I didn’t want that.”
When he was first injured, he had to contemplate the end of a career before it even got started. “When you have an ACL tear, it’s over…no more basketball,” he told me. “I said, God, give me health again and I’ll do everything I can to leave it all out on the line and be a successful individual.”
On my podcast, Carl pointed out another interesting lesson he learned in the NBA: Not doing things just to fit in.
“Fitting in was easy,” he said. “Doing everything that everybody else does was easy. If I stood out in some type of way, I’m going to have different results. I’m going to have stand-out results.”
That’s called the “Law of Contrast” and it produces that exact effect of changing the outcomes that everyone else is experiencing. Carl is smart, he recognized that differences make a difference, and doing whatever it takes is what is required to make real, meaningful differences.
Every off-season for the last 11 years, he has run a camp for kids in Milwaukee where he tells youth his story of hard work and persistence. “I always tell the kids to apply themselves and always be persistent,” he said. “If you dream, apply yourself and be persistent. With hard work, man, the sky’s the limit.”
When Carl says the sky’s the limit he means it. He is smart to recognize that it’s important to dream big, because if we don’t – we may be selling ourselves short. “You have to dream bigger than your mind could ever imagine,” he said. “I wanted a nice house. I wanted a nice car. I said, and I got all of that. So, what do I do, do I stop now? Maybe I didn’t dream big enough.” That’s a big statement coming from a kid who grew up to be the first in his family to graduate college and go on to be not only a top NBA basketball start, but a good businessman, father and someone who gives back to the community.
I’m convinced that in whatever he takes on as a basketball player or in his post-hoops career, Carl Landry is not going to stop getting better at whatever he does, and in the process of doing so, make the world a better place.
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