Archive for the ‘Relaxation technique’ Tag

Anxiety And Meditation   3 comments

bronwynchatby Bronwyn Fox, Power Surge’s Anxiety/Panic Attack Expert”

One of the most common questions we are asked is:

“I am taking medication and/or I am seeing a therapist, but is there anything else I can do to help me recover ?

And the answer is, “Yes! There is.”

The basis of our self help techniques is :

Mindfulness Meditation

Why Meditation?

Because meditation is a fantastic self help technique involving both a relaxation technique and a cognitive technique.

Meditation was how Bronwyn recovered in 1985. Since then Bronwyn has taught thousands and thousands of people with an anxiety disorder to meditate. Bronwyn’s book ‘Power over Panic’ which describes and teaches meditation is a best seller in Australia and her Panic Anxiety Management Workshops won an Australian and New Zealand Mental Health Award.

We use meditation in a non spiritual / non religious way

And we use it in a number of different ways:

  • as a relaxation technique
  • to teach people mindfulness /awareness skills
  • to learn how not to attach to, or empower thoughts which create panic and anxiety
  • as an exposure method to dissociative states including depersonalisation and derealisation
  • as an exposure method for letting go of the need to be in control and/or fighting the panic attack and/or anxiety

This is then transferred over into every day life as a Mindfulness based cognitive technique :

People are taught to:

  • become mindful/aware of their panic/anxiety producing thoughts during the day
  • become aware of the intimate relationship between their thoughts and their symptoms
  • become aware of any tendency to dissociate

This assists people:

  • in seeing how many of their fears and symptoms are being created by the way they think
  • to see they have a choice in what they think about
  • to learn not to attach to or empower their thoughts
  • to learn how to manage and control their thoughts
  • to learn to let go of the need to fight their panic attacks and/or anxiety
  • to learn to let their panic attacks and anxiety happen without resistance
  • to be aware of and manage any personal tendency to dissociate

Many people tell us they can’t relax, that they have never been able to relax. Part of the reason why people can’t relax is that they are too frightened to let go of their overall need to be in control. Or as people do begin to relax they become fearful of the sensations of their body relaxing. The meditation technique we use is specifically designed for people with an anxiety disorder and assists people in being able to learn to let go of the control and to learn to accept the sensations of their body relaxing with out fear.

How does meditation differ from progressive muscle relaxation? Most other relaxation techniques focus on relaxing the body first. Meditation focuses on the mind and the body relaxes naturally as a result.

How does our Mindfulness technique differ from other cognitive techniques? Other cognitive techniques, while being very effective, don’t emphasis the ongoing awareness of thought patterns in the way a mindfulness technique does. Using a mindfulness technique means we can begin to see how it is not just our obvious thoughts, ‘what if I have a heart attack, go insane, lose control, make a fool of myself’ etc that are creating our anxiety and panic. Mindfulness shows us how our low self esteem also impacts on us and how our thoughts about ourselves and the way we interact with other people also perpetuates our anxiety and panic.

It helps us become aware of how we constantly get hooked into feeling guilty about 1001 different situations, how our perfectionist behaviour impacts in our lives. How our need to be ‘all things to all people’ creates so much of our underlying anxiety. Once we are aware of all that we are unknowingly doing to ourselves, Mindfulness then teaches us and shows us that we can have a choice in what we think about and in how we live our lives. Other cognitive techniques usually do not go into as much subtle detail as the mindfulness techniques.

Other cognitive techniques involve changing our thoughts eg the thought…’what if the doctor has made a mistake. What if there is really something wrong with me that they have overlooked’. With cognitive therapy you would be asked to look at this thought and find a more reality based thought..i.e.

“I have seen two different doctors and a cardiologist. All the tests results from each doctor and the cardiologist show there is nothing physically wrong with me.’ and/or ‘ I have been feeling like this now for ‘X’ amount of months, years, if there was something wrong with me I would know it for sure by now..and so would the doctors!”

Mindfulness differs from this approach in so far as the technique doesn’t involve finding a more reality based thought. Mindfulness teaches the reality! With a mindfulness technique people begin to see the intimate relationship between their thought patterns and how this creates their anxiety and panic.

Once we are aware of this relationship we begin to lose our various fears because we can see, step by step, how it is being created. If we dissociate it teaches us to see how this happens and how our thoughts about it create the panic and anxiety.

As we practice Mindfulness we begin to realise that we do have a choice in what we think about. Using the mindfulness technique we can then exercise this choice!

Bronwyn Fox is the author of

  • Power Over Panic: Freedom From Panic/Anxiety Related Disorders
  • and the The 2nd edition, Power Over Panic
  • plus “Working through Panic: Your Step-by-Step Guide to Overcoming Panic/Anxiety Related Disorders” (which you can get on Bronwyn’s Web site
  • and finally, the wonderful audio cassette, Anxiety Panic: Taking Back the Power

By Dearest, Founder of Power Surge   15 comments

alice-avatar“I repeat over and over on the site that any complaints a woman has during menopause should not automatically be attributed to the process of menopause. That’s an important disclaimer. In short, before assuming, not that you are, that any of the things you’ve mentioned in your message are associated with peri or postmenopause, you should be checked by a doctor you respect, trust and admire — one who listens to you and doesn’t just hand you a prescription to resolve your problems.

That having been said, let me tell you that during those “worst” years of perimenopause, I experienced SO MANY strange, inexplicable and, oftentimes, bizarre feelings in my body, I conjured up notions of having a brain tumor, Parkinson’s Disease, Lupus, Fibromyalgia, Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, Menniere’s Disease, a heart condition, paralysis, a potential stroke, glaucoma — have I left anything out? And I say none of this with humor.

Perimenopause is the singularly most uncomfortable time of a woman’s life. I’ve posted many times about the internal shaking. It’s been my nemesis and continues this day to plague me.

I had the facial tremors and buzzing sensations on a daily basis. The feelings were so strange, they almost defy description. No one could see it, but it felt as though I were having a stroke. I’d often experience numbness in my face and on my left side at the same time — a red flag would go up because I thought I was definitely having a coronary situation or stroke. Facial ticks, facial tremors, an electrical buzzing in the back of my neck and various parts of my body drove me to distraction.

The good part about this story is that most of those symptoms DO go away once you’ve been without a period for about a year or two. Those feelings, in the majority of cases, are due to the hormonal fluctuations your body is experiencing. Imagine turning the thermostat in your house up and down a dozen or more times a day. Your house wouldn’t know whether to turn on the heat or air conditioning.

Our bodies become very sensitized during this process. Feelings are frightening — we can walk around for days feeling vertigo/dizziness and/or a ringing in the ears (tinnitus). There were days I had to grab onto a bannister or railing for fear that I was going to fall over. My legs still pose a problem — becoming weak and feeling as if they’re not going to support me any longer. Pain in the feet, calves, shoulders, joints aching and paining often to the point of bringing tears to your eyes.

My suggestion to you would be to get yourself a thorough examination by your doctor. Have a blood workup, sugar test, thyroid, hormone levels, total lipid / cholesterol profile. Insist on an Echo cardiogram, not just a cardiogram.

Our bodies are composed of so many different types of hormones — not just estrogen, progesterone and testosterone. Our bodies react to the constant ebb and flow of these hormone levels. Our central nervous system, nerve endings produce electrical impulses. Those electrical impulses are felt differently by every woman. Some women never feel them, while others are fraught with all sorts of strange sensations.

Once you’ve been given a clean bill of health by your doctor, the singularly most important thing you need to do during perimenopause is do relaxation techniques. Learn breathing exercises. Use the paper bag method (I call it “brown bagging it) I have described in many areas of the Web site and on these boards. I’ll provide a link to that at the end of this message.

Feed yourself affirmations every day that this, too, shall pass — that you are not dying — that although you feel as if your body is going to hell in a handbasket and you’re never going to survive this transition, you will. That, most importantly, there is nothing to be afraid of even though it feels at times like someone is holding a gun to your head and ready to pull the trigger.

Oh, Lord, would it were so that they’d find a way for women NOT to have to go through menopause. And, further, I am sick of hearing *some* people say that it’s all in our minds, or it’s our nerves, or if we had better things to do with our time, we wouldn’t think about it. I’ve never stopped being busy during this transition, but that didn’t ease the symptoms.

To those people, I say … until you’ve walked a mile in another person’s shoes, you can’t know what they are going through. Women in menopause aren’t hypochondriacs. I have to be dragged and feeling as if I’m not long for the world before I go to the doctor. Why? Because during perimenopause, I have learned… doctors don’t have answers to most of our questions other than to prescribe tranquilizers or anti-depressants or hormones…. and although some of these medications may help in the short term and to get you over the “hump” of perimenopause, most of them don’t work in the long term — or through the duration of perimenopause and it concerns me that there are no real long-term studies on these SSRI’s (anti-depressants).

If you feel you need to take something to get through this process, absolutely take it. Don’t make a martyr or yourself. However, remember, these medications only temporarily mask the symptoms. Learning ways to relax and cope with the changes you’re undergoing works far better over the long haul than anything else.

I have provided various relaxation and breathing techniques on this, the anxiety and the panic boards that can be tremendously helpful. The one I’d recommend is something I refer to as “brown bagging it.” It’s in various places of the site, but I’ll give you a link to my article after I’ve finished this message.

It has been my experience and I believe that of many other women who’ve passed through Power Surge over the seven years it’s been online that once you are in the throes of perimenopause, for about one or two years — perhaps a third (but not often), you will experience every conceivable symptom on the list of 34+ symptoms (* see below). I went through severe migraines and was *never* a headache person in my life. They lasted about a year or two – on and off, not every day, but they eventually stopped. I went through the facial tremors, buzzing experience as though I’d had my finger in an electrical socket. The migraines and severe palpitations, hot flashes, night sweats, crying and severe mood swings, horrific depression so much so that at times I would put my head on the pillow at night and whisper to God, “Please, if I have to feel this way tomorrow, let me not wake up.”

Those feelings — horrible as they are — don’t generally last for the full transitional period. They usually occur during the worst phase of perimenopause and only last about a year or two. That doesn’t mean you won’t ever experience them again in some milder form, but the severity and frequency will certainly decrease — and hormone therapy isn’t the magical answer. Many women using hormones still experience many of these symptoms.

Just remember that as long as you’ve been given the okay regarding your health by your health care provider, these are symptoms of menopause and, yes, I say symptoms. People have said to me, “Why do you call them symptoms? Menopause isn’t an illness.”

I tell them that I know menopause isn’t technically an illness, but seeing as how I have never felt worse in my life, I will not say that I am well.

I get very passionate about this subject and one of the reasons I’ve kept Power Surge an independent entity is because it allows me the opportunity to express myself without wondering who’s going to pay the bills if I tell the truth about the medical profession and some of the techniques of the pharmaceutical companies.

I will never get rich from Power Surge, but knowing that this community has helped so many women understand what they’re going through without just dumping medical abstracts at them and pushing pills on them has been the most gratifying and “freeing” experience of my life.

Finally, let me add my favorite words — THIS, TOO, SHALL PASS. Believe me, I thought in my heart I would never, ever survive perimenopause, but the internal shaking eases up even though it’s hell while you’re going through it. The palps will stop as well. It just takes time and a LOT of patience!

Be good to your body and it will return the favor in spades.

For the “brown bagging it” reference and many other helpful suggestions, check out the Power Surge Menopause Survival Tips article.

…and the ever useful…

* The 34+ Signs of Menopause

Dearest”

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