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Aaron Kretzschmar

Aaron Kretzschmar

Discussing anxiety and panic attacks from a positive perspective. http://misdirectedanxiety.com/
Wednesday, 26 March 2014 18:22

Anxiety Judo

In the movies, there is usually a "good guy" and a "bad guy". Usually the good guy starts off appearing really strong. Then as the plot progresses, the bad guy increases in strength until the point comes where he seems utterly invincible. But in the end, that strength is always revealed to be nothing but a house of cards. The fight may be epic, but the good guy always wins. Usually the seemingly strong foe has a simple weakness that the good guy able to exploit rather easily once he figures it out. This is a lot like anxiety. It shouldn't be a surprise that the bad guy in this analogy is anxiety, and the good guy is you, the person struggling with anxiety. Anxiety usually comes on small, with just a little nervousness that can be easily dismissed as nothing to worry about. With time, though, it increases in it's intensity until it engulfs your life and your situation seems absolutely hopeless. The important thing to realize is that you are the good guy, and the good guy always wins in the end. The strength that you possess may not seem like a lot, but you have one major thing going for you. Your strength is real. It is grounded within you and cannot be taken away. The strength of your anxiety or panic may seem overwhelming. But it's not real. It's a house of cards that be blown away with the same breath that you'd use to blow…
Wednesday, 26 March 2014 01:16

Opposite Action

Opposite Action- A great mindfulness technique for stopping panic dead in it’s tracks! Opposite Action is a term I see thrown around a lot lately and one that I find very interesting. I have been applying aspects of this for some time without even realizing that is what I was doing. I want to discuss opposite action here because it some great applications to anxiety and panic attacks. What is “Opposite Action”? It’s really a very simple concept. When you begin to feel anxious, your first instinctual reaction is usually something very counter-productive. Your primal fight-or-flight response kicks in and your actions will often fuel the panic further. By consciously taking the opposite route you have a much better chance at reducing that anxious response before it blows up into a full blown panic attack. Example: My number one panic trigger is interstate driving. I tend to get very anxious when driving on highways (although I absolutely love to travel. Ironic, huh?). When I start to get anxious while driving my first instincts are to turn down the radio, slow down and move into the slow lane, and get really fidgety. I start pulling on my seat-belt because the source of many of the physical symptoms of anxiety are in my chest and I feel constrained by the seat-belt. I will reach for the shifting handle even though my car has an automatic transmission. I drove a stick-shift for many years and I suppose that control gave me some comfort.…
Tuesday, 25 March 2014 23:01

Quit Talking Yourself Into Fear

  Quit Talking Yourself Into Fear!   It probably sounds pretty simple, right? Duh! We don't enjoy feeling scared, anxious, or panicked so why would we talk ourselves into feeling this way? But the truth is that many of us do. Think about it. What usually happens just before (or often during) a panic attack? Negative thoughts. "What if..? Thoughts. "What if I do something embarrassing?" "What if I bomb this test?" "What if I forget the lines to my presentation, I lose the client, get fired from my job, my wife leaves me, my car gets repossessed, and I have to hold one of those signs saying "Cash 4 Gold" on the street corner?" Those negative, fearful thoughts fool your mind into thinking there really is something to fear, triggering a fight-or-flight response throughout your body. Your heart starts racing, your mind spins, and you spiral into the terrifying experience of a panic attack, and it all began with thoughts. Who created those thoughts? You did!In most instances, there is no legitimate outside force causing you to panic. Look back and reflect on the times that you have experienced panic attacks and ask yourself "what was the cause?". Sure, there probably was a trigger. Maybe it was a large crowd at the mall, or a traffic jam that you were stuck in. Maybe you had to get up and speak in front of a group. A stressful day at work. A tough conversation with someone you love. Different things…
Wednesday, 21 November 2012 06:42

Your Panic Attack Cannot Kill You

Some Facts on Why a Panic Attack Can't Really Kill You   Your panic attack cannot kill you. Of all the things I have learned, this is by far the most crucial. When you are in that moment of panic, your heart is racing, your mind is lost, you're having trouble breathing, and you may feel like you're going to die. When I had my first major panic attack, I thought I was about to die. I was literally saying my good-byes to the world as I paced back and forth in my bathroom at 5am. I awoke my wife, unsure if I was going to be saying good-bye to her forever or having her drive me to the ER. But upon waking (and scaring the Hell out of her) I was able to get some comfort and began to calm down. It soon passed and a state of confusion took over for the fear. I will get to that in another post. But, although I sure felt like this must be the end for me, it surely wasn't. This was years ago and I am still alive and kicking. Your panic attack simply does not have the ability to kill you. I will explain why. The panic attack is created entirely by you. It may seem to be triggered by outside factors, but really it is all coming from your amygdala, a primal part of your brain that controls feelings such at the fight-or-flight response. If you have an…
Friday, 16 November 2012 19:38

The Other Side of Things

The Other Side of Things   I vividly remember sitting on my bathroom floor, staring at the wall. The world was looking dark as can be. I was in the midst of a bout with a panic attack in my own home. Anxiety was tearing apart my life. I was essentially unable to leave home on my own without panicking. I wasn't eating right, or much at all. I wasn't sleeping well. I felt horrible about the toll this was taking on my relationship with my wife. I was depending on her for so much and that was not fair to her. I was positive that all of my career and life goals were now about as attainable as riding a dolphin to the moon. And I was quite sure that a normal life was surely beyond my reach. There didn't seem to be much point in anything.This was less than a year ago. It was at that point, while sitting on my bathroom floor, that something dawned on me. Something that would change my life forever. As I was trying to dig through the gloomy haze of panic and find something to drag me up off of that floor, I thought about the future. I realized it was still there. Despite all of the pain I could still not see there not being a future. And something occurred to me. It was the thought that if I could get through THIS, the most impossible challenge I have ever faced…
Friday, 16 November 2012 05:33

Opposite Action

Opposite Actionas a Way to Deal With Anxiety   Opposite Action is a term I see thrown around a lot lately and one that I find very interesting. I have been applying aspects of this for some time without even realizing that is what I was doing. I want to discuss opposite action here because it some great applications to anxiety and panic attacks. What is "Opposite Action"? It's really a very simple concept. When you begin to feel anxious, your first instinctual reaction is usually something very counter-productive. Your primal fight-or-flight response kicks in and your actions will often fuel the panic further. By consciously taking the opposite route you have a much better chance at reducing that anxious response before it blows up into a full blown panic attack. Example: My number one panic trigger is interstate driving. I tend to get very anxious when driving on highways (although I absolutely love to travel. Ironic, huh?). When I start to get anxious while driving my first instincts are to turn down the radio, slow down and move into the slow lane, and get really fidgety. I start pulling on my seat-belt because the source of many of the physical symptoms of anxiety are in my chest and I feel constrained by the seat-belt. I will reach for the shifting handle even though my car has an automatic transmission. I drove a stick-shift for many years and I suppose that control gave me some comfort. My mind now associates…
Thursday, 15 November 2012 05:00

Walking Through Fire

"If you're going through Hell, keep going." Winston Churchill. Often when something makes us uncomfortable or anxious, our first response is to retreat. It's a natural response, but often not a helpful one. Sometimes you really do have to face that fear. This is especially true for people with anxiety disorders, because what has us worked up is usually not jumping out of an airplane or staring down a man-eating shark. It's more likely to be something like driving during rush-hour traffic, standing in a long line at the grocery store, meeting someone new, or speaking in front of a group. If we allow ourselves to retreat from these everyday things because they make us anxious or even stir a panic attack, we allow our world to shrink. We avoid going out for fear of facing these things. The real problem is that the anxiety is within us. It is not out there in the cold cruel world that we are retreating from. So when we hide at home or avoid stressful places, eventually we find that the anxiety is still right there with us. It still finds a way to come out. Then we begin finding new triggers and new things to avoid. Our worlds continue to shrink, and this viscious cycle can cause more stress and more anxiety. This is where old Mr. Churchill's words of wisdom come into play. We've seen that freedom from anxiety does not lie in retreating. You're going through Hell so the last…

 

 

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