Today we continue our series on Panic Attacks Info Tips to help clarify our 10 Rules for Coping with Panic Attacks.
Today’s Panic Attacks Info Tip is: Function With A Level Of Fear
Your goal is to stay in the anxiety provoking situation even though you are afraid. You are not to retreat or run away from the situation. Your goal is to stay and continue to function- to the best of your ability.
Appreciate the achievement. If you are talking to someone and start to get anxious, continue to talk. If you are shopping in a store, continue to shop. If you are eating in the cafeteria, continue to eat. (I’m sure you get the picture.) Continue with whatever it is that you are doing.
As you stay in the situation for longer periods each time and continuing to function, you’ll be making progress.
This is also the best way to prevent your anxiety from getting out of control.
By learning to Do It Afraid, or Functioning with a Level of Fear, you are, in essence taking control of your anxiety. You are in the drivers seat and by taking action- staying seated at the parent teacher conference, for example, you are calling your fear’s bluff.
Anxiety tells you to run, to get out of there at all cost OR ELSE. Anxiety tells you to beat it, head for the exit, head for the bathroom.
But you can challenge the validity of the fear by staying in the anxiety trigger situation and seeing it through as best you can while still having the fear.
Learning to feel the fear and do it anyways was one of the best ways for me to learn to challenge and overcome a lot of anxious symptoms. I learned that the anxiety was a big fat liar. None of the horrible things I imagined an feared would ever happen to me.
For example, I went through hell in high school and college because I had a fear of vomiting in class. I would have this awful fear every time I went into a classroom or lecture hall.
Not once did I ever lose my cookies. I bolted from lecture halls and headed straight to the toilet a few times, so convinced that I was going to throw up. But never, ever, not once did it ever actually happen to me.
This seemingly silly fear kept me in perplexed and in knots for at least 6 years. It sucked.
By the time I was in graduate school, I knew I wasn’t going to ever vomit in class. My evidence was the fact that I never had. It took years for me to figure this out, but today I can sit in classrooms and lectures and the fear of vomiting does not happen anymore. Once in awhile I might get a twinge of this fear because it is so engrained in my memory. But for the most part I am nausea free.
It took me much less time (thank God) to learn to function with depersonalization (to read more, see Depersonalization: What is it?). That to me is one of the scariest anxiety symptoms. It’s where you don’t feel like you’re in your body at all. It’s like not being there but you know you’re there and it makes you panic.
Well, I learned to function while feeling depersonalization very well. I have shopped in stores and malls, I have gone to social functions and continued to work at my job while feeling this weird feeling. As long as I don’t run from the feeling in fear- bolt for the bathroom or leave the building, the feeling eventually goes away.
Today I know functioning with a level of fear brings me to a goal. It is never in vain. It is always worth the effort.:)
I learned to go to the gym with anxiety by doing it afraid and functioning with a level of fear. I did it over and over and over again. First in yoga class, then in the main area of the gym on the stair masters and elliptical machines, and eventually in aerobics and spin classes. I do love going to the gym now and am so glad I made this a goal. It was well worth the effort of showing up and feeling afraid and still sticking it out.
I did the same with my current job. Still have to feel the fear and do it anyways- because I’ve only been there less than a year. But by and large work is a very happy place for me emotionally. It feels good to be doing well especially since my stress and anxiety got the better of me at my last job. I intend to keep it up.
It feels very weird at first to stay and function with a level of anxiety instead of bolting out the door or avoiding the dreaded situation in the first place. It goes against what your anxiety and body is telling you at that moment. But I promise if you try to do this gradually and keep on doing it afraid, you will gradually lose some if not all of the fear.
It is a gradual process and takes repetition, but it really does work and I encourage you to try it.
What do you have to say about this panic attacks info tip of functioning with a level of fear? I look forward to your thoughts and comments.
I wish you peace,
Had it with anxiety? Ready to take action with an effective anxiety elimination program? I recommend and use the Anxiety Self Help Road Map. Please get started today and reclaim your life from fear.