If you have panic attacks, you really suffer. Learning how to prevent panic attacks is something we all try to do, often at great expense to the quality of our lives. We may partake in various avoidance behaviors, of places or situations where we feel trapped and vulnerable, or at risk for severe anxiety.
We may end up dependent on anti-anxiety medications because, although they make us feel dull, anything’s better than having panic attacks. (You may know that I struggled to wean myself off of the meds I was prescribed).
Today I’m going to suggest a different way to prevent panic attacks, and it really works. I have learned to get better by literally just Doing it Afraid. It is a good way I have used to cope with that anxiety.
I know what you’re thinking: Jill you’re really out of your mind. I could never do this and how dare you even suggest it? Please read on..
That’s exactly what I thought the first time I heard about Doing it Afraid. In fact, I was so convinced I couldn’t face (much less challenge) my fears, I never even tried and just continued to take my (multiple and really high dose) medications just to make it through my days.
And I so stayed afraid for years. 20 years to be precise.
It can be disconcerting to say the least when your anxiety takes over your life. Life gets harder and harder as your world starts to close in on itself and get smaller and smaller. You beat yourself up with tell yourself you’re a pitiful coward.
But did you know that you actually posses an unbelievable amount of courage? Living and coping with panic attacks and anxiety disorders is incredibly hard under the best of circumstances. Despite our anxiety, we carry on with the day to day functions of life. Its not easy and sometimes we get discouraged or depressed. The fact that we continue living when life is so hard is testament to our courage.
Right now, there are students crippled with anxiety who continue to go to school. Right now there are new moms paralyzed with anxiety who force themselves to get their child to the play group. Right now there are businessmen terrorized by the thought that their boss will ask them to share during a presentation, and yet they continue to work and provide for their families.
If all this isn’t courageous, frankly, I don’t know what is….
How to Do It Afraid and Prevent Panic Attacks
I’m here to tell you, you can start to manage your anxiety and even prevent panic attacks if you agree to give it a try and Do it Afraid.
That is what getting better is all about – learning to Do it Afraid.
In order to Do it Afraid successfully, you must do 2 things:
1. Challenge your fear – This may seem hard to do when you are already anxious and nervous about something. But try it. If you have a fear of sitting in the middle row at church, do it on purpose. Force yourself to do it afraid, and while you’re sitting there, dare your anxiety to bring on it’s worst symptoms. Guess what? Anxiety and panic are fueled by adrenaline, and it always has to run out. I promise you nothing will happen, except you may feel a bit scared. The great thing is you will feel awesome afterwards for doing the thing you were anxious about. Another great thing is NO ONE will notice that you were anxious. The point is that challenging your fear won’t kill you. It WILL make you better!
2. Start small — If the thought of Doing it Afraid is too hard because you’re already anxious, you can take a step back and experiment in a situation where you are not anxious, just mildly uncomfortable.
For example, I have a hard time making eye contact when I am in a group situation, such as sharing at my weekly Al-Anon meetings, or around a dinner table with relatives. The thought of people’s eyes on me can even make me panic. In order to avoid the panic feelings, I avoid eye contact.
So I set a goal to learn to stop this avoidance behavior. Over the past 2 days on my morning walk, I made a conscious effort to make eye contact with people along the way. As I walked past the middle school bus stop, I forced myself to meet the gaze of 2 of the teens standing there and give a pleasant smile. (I usually totally ignore them because my social anxiety tells me they’re judging or scrutinizing me).
A victory! They smiled back. I was uncomfortable making eye contact with them, but I Did it Afraid, and it wasn’t so bad after all. This also gave me the courage to try it with the next person I passed. By the end of my walk, I had made eye contact with and smiled at 6 other people (I even said good morning and made a bit of small talk). By the time I got home, I felt absolutely exhilarated. All this, just because I chose to make eye contact instead of avoiding eye contact. Nice!
I WILL overcome this avoidance of eye contact. And by challenging my fear of eye contact, taking baby steps like this, and keeping on with it, I will meet this challenge easily.
Doing it Afraid is hard to do at first. But it’s worth it to try.
When you do, you will find that the thing you are most afraid of (being trapped forever, going insane, a heart attack, etc) will never happen. The severe anxiety and panic symptoms I have felt millions of times over the years are all for nothing in the end, because even though my gravest fear over many years is that I will projectile vomit in public, I NEVER have… and I never will.
How to prevent panic attacks? Try Doing it Afraid. You will begin to see your way out of the anxiety and back into a happy fulfilling life.
Can you try Doing it Afraid today? Let me know how it works for you.
Come to the edge, he said. They said: We are afraid. Come to the edge, he said. They came. He pushed them and they flew. -Guillaume Apollinaire
I wish you peace,
Want to know how I’m doing so well after suffering from anxiety and panic attacks for so long? I get out there and Do it Afraid every day, and I use Panic Away. Click on the link to get started today and reclaim your life from fear.