As someone who has spent the past decade learning how to manage anxiety and stress levels, I'm here to share some of the signs and signals that our body gives us when it is trying to help us stay healthy, well and full of energy.
The wisdom of our body continues to astound me. The more I connect to it through yoga, breath, movement and most importantly stillness, the more I appreciate the wonderful intuitive guidance that our physical body gives to us each and every day.
What an amazing tool we have at our disposal, if only we can just take a moment to stop and listen.
I have learned to appreciate my anxiety for the lessons that it teaches me. Anxiety and overwhelm is a big fat alarm bell that something is not quite ‘right’, whether from a physical or an emotional point of view.
When we are in an anxious state or stressed out and panicky, we often begin to turn on our body, blaming it for making us feel a certain way. It can trigger off a lot of anger and resentment towards the place that you call home and can lead to a feeling of disconnect.
However, what it is actually doing is trying to get our attention – so it's important to slow down for a little while and listen to the wisdom that it is sharing with us. Here are 3 signals of panic coming on and what you can do to manage anxiety and stress in life.
How to stop a panic attack when you feel it coming on
• Signal 1
Problem: Breath becomes short. You may find yourself breathing into your chest and not into your belly which results in lightheadedness and dizziness. For someone like me that gets triggered by health concerns, this can spiral me down a track of worrying incessantly about my health.
What is the body trying to say? Possibly that you are focusing too much on the things in your head and the worries, and not enough on being grounded and 'in the moment'.
Solution: Ten deep belly breaths (hand on tummy really helps to imagine you are filling up a balloon) and breathing out for longer than you breathe in to help re-balance the carbon dioxide levels in the body. Try inhaling for 3 or 4 and exhaling for 4 or 5. Getting both of your feet on the ground also really helps here.
• Signal 2
Problem: You can’t sleep. You feel exhausted but yet are so wired that sleep is elusive. You may find yourself falling asleep on the sofa then getting to bed only to be wide awake. This is mainly due to unbalanced cortisol levels and a busy brain.
What is the body trying to say? You may be too 'on' and need to slow down – take some time to be still and leave technology behind.
Solution: Try to get to bed before 10pm and switch off all electronic devices at least an hour before bedtime. Also, try and read something for a few minutes before switching off the light to help the brain come away from work and personal stresses and help you drift off.
• Signal 3
Problem: Your body aches for no reason. Have you noticed that the more stressed you are, the more stiff your body becomes, particularly in the shoulders, back and jaw?
What is the body trying to say? You probably have not moved enough during the day and have been spending way too much time sitting at the desk, and that you have been 'holding' a certain area of the body.
Solution: Try getting as much gentle movement throughout the day as possible – which might look like walking around the office at work for 2 minutes every hour, or doing a few yoga stretches at your desk. The knock on effects of movement are tenfold, as not only does it help you feel less stiff it also helps you sleep.
The body is continuously sending us messages and the beginnings of anxiety and worries are simply a sign that you need to step back, look after yourself and return to your natural cyclical flow of energy. Because of these messages, I personally have actually learned to become so grateful for my anxiousness – in fact I would almost describe it as one of my greatest allies!
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