While our society may appear as divided as ever, there is one thing we all can agree on: 2020 made us come face to face with fear and anxiety. This Thursday, I will be answering your questions and more on these emotions.
Some may have encountered fear and anxiety for the first time, while others may have felt even more trapped and overwhelmed than usual. Most people who suffer from anxiety are afraid, and wonder how they can get rid of these utterly uncomfortable feelings.
There is a lot of confusing, misleading and disempowering information about fear and anxiety out there. One common misconception is that we can get rid of these emotions by either fighting or ignoring them. In my almost twenty years of experience helping people overcome fear and anxiety, I can tell you that the opposite is the case. Fear and anxiety are not useless feelings or just signs that our brain chemistry is out of balance. Similar to physical pain, fear and anxiety are symptoms of deeper root cause, such as unresolved traumas or limiting beliefs. Therefore, the best way to heal fear and anxiety is to approach these emotions with an open and inquisitive mind. Join me this Thursday, December 3rd at 9AM PT / Noon ET, on Empowerment Radio, where I will answer this and any of your questions on how to grow from and beyond fear and anxiety.
Here are a few questions I received during the last Q&A a couple of years ago:
Q: I have been dealing with burn-out and exhaustion to the extent that I passed out. Now, I am constantly struggling with anxiety and mind-racing. What can I do?
Fear and anxiety can certainly make us feel powerless and trapped. But although these emotions don't feel good, they usually have a positive intention - to keep us safe. From what you're describing, you may have been pushing yourself very hard for a long time, which eventually led to your burn-out. Your anxiety's protective purpose could be that a part of your subconscious mind wants to prevent you from going back into overdrive because this part recognizes that you are damaging your health and well-being this way.
In addition to that, another part of you that made you work hard and over-extend yourself, may now be afraid that you are ruining your career and all that you have built. In other words, one of the major causes of your anxiety could be an inner conflict between a part of you that wants to protect your health and well-being, and another part of you that doesn't want you to fail. Like pushing the accelerator of a car and pulling the brakes simultaneously, all your mind is doing right now is spinning its wheels without getting anywhere. Here is a process that can help you to start addressing the tug-of-war within. The good news is that once you resolve this conflict, you will feel less anxious and more whole and at peace.
Q: Can I die from a panic attack?
Panic attacks feel like a sudden onset of intense anxiety. The symptoms are shortness of breath, pounding heart and chest pain, dizziness, nausea, trembling, and shaking. After the first panic attack, most people suffer from the fear of potentially going through another one in the future. During a panic attack, it is important to remember that although the emotions feel intense, they won't cause any physical harm and eventually pass. Breathing slowly and deeply, reciting calming affirmations, talking to a friend or family member, visualizing a calm and peaceful place, or simply walking outside for a couple of minutes can all decrease the intensity of the panic attack.
Many of my clients suffering from sudden panic attacks realized that they had been dealing with anxiety for quite some time. Yet, rather than acknowledging these emotions, they tried to push them aside and ignore them. In this regard, you can look at panic attacks like a pressure cooker that exploded once you have neglected your anxiety for too long.
The best way to deal with panic attacks is to treat them as symptoms of an underlying anxiety issue. While anti-anxiety medication can provide relief from the intensity of the emotions, psychotherapy, cognitive behavioral therapy or hypnotherapy are more effective way long-term solutions, to address and resolve the root causes of the anxiety disorder. Also, avoiding alcohol, nicotine, caffeine, lack of sleep, low blood sugar, and overstimulation can decrease the likelihood of another panic attack.
Q: Is anxiety a genetic issue? I believe I have been anxious all my life.
Anxiety appears to run in families. However, the question is whether family members are more prone to have anxiety because they are sharing the same genes or due to environmental factors they share. While genetic research has become highly advanced in the last twenty years, there is still only limited information on anxiety disorders' genetic predisposition. Studies with identical twins demonstrated that although anxiety can be hereditary, genes may explain only 30% of why a person develops an anxiety disorder.
Recent research has been focusing more on how epigenetic factors may contribute to the onset of anxiety disorders. Epigenetics explores how our environment can cause the activation or deactivation of certain genes. DNA methylation is one of the most common ways cells turn a gene off in response to changes in the environment. Scientists found that stress and anxiety can be passed on through epigenetic changes during pregnancy. It turns out that in fetuses and infants of mothers, who have been struggling with depression and stress, the gene of the glucocorticoid receptor (GCR) can be highly methylated. The GCR's methylation causes an excessive release of stress hormones, which makes infants react more strongly to stress and anxiety triggers.
Q: How do I address my fear of global warming? How do I counter-balance negative thoughts concerning something that I believe to be true, rather than an irrational fear?
When it comes to global warming, the economy, or any other issues we may be concerned about but feel powerless to make any significant changes, we naturally feel anxious, small and out of control. Yet, it doesn't help you get stuck in these emotions, nor does it empower you to become an agent of change.
To address these issues, we need millions of agents of change who are motivated and committed to doing their part to create solutions - no matter how big or significant they may appear. So in your counter-balancing thoughts, focus on affirming that you are aware of the global challenges and that you are driven to do whatever you can to make a difference. For example, by making your life even more sustainable, by raising the awareness of what each of us can do, by supporting good causes etc.
Secondly, remind yourself that problems can't be solved when we perceive them as bigger than ourselves. Therefore, you choose to stay positive, optimistic and confident. You choose to focus on your contributions and on information that is change-oriented and not just fear triggering. If you want to go even further, you can choose to trust in the wisdom of the planet, which may sound a bit esoteric. But similar to trusting in the incredible adaptability of nature, we may need to have a little faith in the self-regulating and self-healing abilities of the earth in general, such as what has been recently observed in regards to the healing of the ozone layer.
Again, take advantage of this opportunity and send me your questions at firstname.lastname@example.org, leave a comment, or during the show call 1 800 930 2819, or leave a comment on my Facebook page. I look forward to speaking with you.