As someone who has suffered from anxiety and nervousnes attacks, I know how scary and uncomfortable the stress response can feel in the body. We feel anxiety when the “fight or flight response”( a physiological reaction that occurs in response to a real or imagined threat to survival) is activated. The “attack” affects the sympathetic nervous system, which is responsible for the involuntary responses including heart palpitations, tightness in the chest, lightheadedness, and feelings of being flushed or warmer than usual. As you perceive a threat, the amygdala( often drawn attention to as the “lizard brain” or “reptilian brain”) tells your autonomic nervous system to prepare to run or fight for your life. Your heart rate and breathing accelerate, and your “spidey senses”( the ability to sense imminent peril) activate. The parasympathetic nervous system is what slackens the fight or flight response and activates your body’s “relaxation response”, which is essentially the exact opposite reaction to the “fight or flight” response. It is your conscious ability to encourage your body to release signals to the brain that slow your muscles and organs down and increase blood flowing to the brain, which produces a soothe, relaxed feeling in the mind and body. There are many techniques you can learn to switch on the parasympathetic nervous system to rapidly reduce feelings of anxiety and stress. Here are my go-to approaches to address the symptoms of an anxiety attack.
The challenge many of us face in the midst of an nervousnes attack is the struggle to reestablish control of our body and mind. Physical activities that lead to a greater sense of self-mastery( e.g. martial art, boxing) may affect your belief in your ability to reach goals and self-efficacy. This leads to lower levels of anxiety through the trust and knowledge of your physical ability to handle potential threats, real or imagined. Boxing involves focus to coordinate the mind and body, which brings you into the present moment and confuses the intellect from ruminating believes. Boxing constructs self-confidence and self-esteem through a sense of achievement. Added benefits of going to a boxing gym can include finding a community and a sense of belonging.
Yoga is a 5,000 -year-old moving meditation that elicits the relaxation response through the synchronization of breath and movement. Breathing is the only function of the autonomic nervous system that is both voluntary and involuntary; controlled breathing can regulate the stress response. Yoga is a systematic practice of motions developed to evoke harmony in the mind and body. A few yoga poses that soothe the nervous system are:
Seated forward fold( Paschimottanasana ), which reduces anxiety and quiets the intellect by describe your energy down. Expanded-Leg Pose( Prasarita Padottanasana ), which brings fresh blood to the brain, allows the heart to rest, and calms the intellect. Forward-fold( Uttanasana ), which stimulates blood flow to the brain and calms the nervous system. Cross-legged pose( Sukhasana ), which provides a stable stance for meditation, and pacifies and determines the mind.