Thursday, June 2, 2011

Thought stopping strategies

I am no stranger to panic. In fact the very reason that I sought counseling for myself in the first place was because I was having uncontrollable panic attacks. I just wanted to share with you a few things that helped me stop a panic attack, or even stop the downward thought spiral. These techniques are very simple and most of them can be used anytime, and anywhere.

1. Mindful noticing – it is as simple and as complicated at that. Oftentimes we get stuck in our minds either increasing the panic, or causing the downward though spiral to continue to descend. The reason mindful noticing works is because it throws a kink in the cycle. There are several ways to use this technique:

a. Whatever is surrounding you, notice it. Describe it, fully. Name it out
loud if you are alone. For example: I am sitting in my office, I am sitting in a burgundy chair, and the chair feels hard against my back. The keys on the keyboard feel slick. They are black. I have a silver bracelet dangling from my arm. I will count the crosses on this bracelet, there are 9. The metal feels cold. Etc, etc, etc. Keep doing this until you begin to calm.

b. Pick up a piece of fruit. Describe it fully and completely. As you eat it, notice the textures, chew slowly, notice the taste, etc, until you begin to calm.

c. Close your eyes and breathe slow and deep, notice every sensation you feel. Do not judge it, simply notice it. From the tips of your toes to the top of your head. Notice how the surface you are laying or sitting on feels, continue to do this until you begin to calm.

2. The rubber band technique – I love this one! Sounds crazy but works! Place a rubber band around your wrist. Where it everywhere you go. When you catch yourself thinking a negative thought, pop yourself on the wrist with your rubber band and in your mind or out loud say “stop”. This technique is a behavioral and aversive technique. The idea is that eventually you will stop thinking these thoughts to avoid the pop! Also the sensation of the pop on your skin is usually enough to jolt you out of the negative thought cycle. Sounds crazy I know, but it TOTALLY works!

3. Verbal thought stopping and scripture. When you start the negative thought cycle, say as loudly as possible “STOP”! Refocus your thoughts, and refute the negative thoughts and lies with scriptural truth. I know the scriptural truth may not be something you “believe” at first, but over time you will come to believe it. You have spent years in these negative thought patterns, repeating them to yourself over and over again. It may also take several times of repeating scripture to yourself over and over again for you to begin to believe it. But, eventually, with practice you will replace those lies with truth! And the truth will set you free dear sister!

Lastly, I want to encourage you to seek individual counseling if you feel that is where the Lord is leading you. I avoided talking about my pain for years, and it wasn’t easy when I finally started talking about it in therapy. But it was so worth it.

Individual counseling from a Christian counselor was invaluable to me, she led me closer to the Lord, and with her guidance and His healing...it changed my life. I also continue to take an anti-anxiety medication. Which I was totally against at first, but it has made all the difference in the world. When you have been hurt or abused and spend years in certain thought patterns the chemicals of your brain get imbalanced. Medication can help to correct that imbalance. If you had high blood pressure you would take medication for that right? Same story with anxiety or depression, sometimes medication is needed, and there is nothing wrong with that!

27 comments:

  1. Thank you for this, I so needed it. I was wonder if there is anyway that I can get these straight in my email. I just come here everyday to see if there is a new post and also it is easier for me to print it when they are in my email. I would like to put this in my book that I use for my study time for the bible study. Thank you again and God bless,
    Lora

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  2. I figured it out!!!! Yes...there is now a subscribe by email option at the top of my blog!!! :) Thanks Lora for the comment, you are so sweet, your comments always make my day :)

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  3. You are helping others and God is using you. All glory and praise to Him. Keep on going girl!
    BFM
    www.cookingupfaith.com

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  4. That first one works the best for me. I was in a grocery store the last time I started having a major panic attack. (It was right after a hurricane and the store was packed, someone grabbed my arm thinking I was someone else.) I probably looked odd stopped dead in the middle of the busy store rubbing my shirt and pants with a funky look on my face taking deep breaths, but it sooooo works!!! I felt completely drained afterward, but I was able to complete my shopping with no other issues. I still use this technique when I feel like one is brewing or the memories/flashbacks are starting to invade.

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  5. Hi Stephanie ! Thanks so much for sharing ! I too have had a lifetime of terrible anxiety and panic! For me it existed right along with extreme nausea - if I felt sick, the anxiety and panic would come, especially if I had to go somewhere! And what a HOOT! I used to use the rubberband technique and it was helpful! I still tell people about to use it to stop panic and also addictive behaviors.
    All the things you listed are so helpful but I'd like to add another significant piece I believe is so missing in overcoming/healing mental/emotional disorders and it's diet. When we eat foods our bodies don't tolerate or digest, it creates a toxic load in the gut. Especially processed sugars, dairy, specific starchy carbohydrates like grains, beans, and starchy vegetables like potatoes, corn, and peas. These can all sit in the gut and create a breeding ground for all the natural beneficial flora (yeasts and bacterias) to overpopulate and turn into bad guys (become pathogenic) They in turn create toxins that can make us very sick! Due to all the upset, the small intestinal lining gets damaged and these toxins are then allowed into the blood stream and get carried to the brain where they provoke imbalance of the brain neurotransmitters (seratonin, dopamine, GABA, etc). This can be the ROOT of so many different disorders such as autism, depression, bi-polar disorder, anxiety/panic disorders, etc. When I took all if these out of my diet, my life changed praise God! BUT due to a lifetime of dealing with all of this, I have had to re-train my mind as well.
    TOXIC GUT = TOXIC BRAIN!!
    I believe God wants us to get back to HIS original plan of eating for our health! Lots of vegetables, fresh herbs, healthy free range meats and meat fats, fresh free range eggs, some fruits and nuts and seeds.
    This life has so many challenges, traumas and difficulties... We all need a strong
    healthy body and MIND that is balanced so we can better cope w it all. For more info I encourage you to check out the GAPSDIET.com website. (GAPS stands for Gut & Psychology Syndrome)
    God bless you!
    Sue

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  6. I love the rubber band idea! I have never seen or heard that one before! I may need to do this with my son... he has such negative thoughts about himself, and he's only 10! I wonder it it would be beneficial to him... not sure if he's aware of his own thoughts enough yet. Also wanted to say I adore your playlist!!! I am writing down a couple that I haven't heard to add to my own!

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  7. Stephanie,
    Thank your for posting the email link. I was looking for one earlier this week. I also want to thank you for praying for me. You replied to my comment the other day about losing my Dad. The grieving process is so hard. I've had other losses in my life and grieved for them but my this time is so different. It is so much harder to lose a parent. I too have suffered from panic attacks & depression (about 11 yrs ago). It was the worst feeling in the world. I took medication for a yr and haven't needed it since. Thank you for these techniques. Especially for not thinking negative thoughts. I do this all the time. I have had low self esteem for a very long time. I was teased in elementary school and I had a grandmother that could be not so nice sometimes. I always think I'm not good enough. I'm not a good enough wife, mom, etc. I'm hard on myself for everything I do. I have a hard time opening myself up to others and letting my walls down. I was deeply hurt several years ago by a family member and while I am working on that relationship, there are still walls that I don't know how to take down. I am hoping to break completely free of all of this.

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  8. Thank you Stephanie for being so real, so honest. I don't have problems with panic but, i do get stressed out easy and overwhelmed. I'm thinking your techniques will work just as well for that also and i love the rubber band idea and think that can work for all kinds of bad habits that need breaking. I have ADD and find i am very impatient, not so much with others as i am with myself. A snap on the wrist may just help me be more aware and stop that. Anyway thank you for some good ideas. God bless you!

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  9. Sue, I have done much research on this as well, and am SOOOOO glad you added that as a piece. I started researching the gut/brain connection when my son was diagnosed with Asperger's. We followed the GFCF diet for a while, but it is soooo hard with kiddos! We should probably jump back on that train...its very difficult to give up those yummy snacks, huh?!?! But we did see a huge change in our son's behavior when we stuck with the GFCF, maybe God is reminding me we need to go back to that!

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  10. Tamara! I love music so much, so healing at times! I am glad you found a couple you like! And yes, i bet it could work with your son, first you might have him journal his thoughts so he can begin to recognize them, and then once he gets good at recognizing them you can work on the rubber band and restructuring those thoughts.

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  11. Kim I am praying that you are able to break free of all this too sister, because as Melissa's blog said today, all of those negative self talk phrases, they are LIES!!! You are valued and loved by God right where you are at, adored by Him :)

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  12. Night owl,That snap on the wrist can be good for breaking just about any habit! Glad you liked that idea! God bless you too girl!

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  13. Heather, oh I know people have thought I was crazy when I am in my car, yelling NO! Stop it! LOL! But if it works...it works :) At least I don't do it at the mall or anything, LOL!

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  14. I especially like how you detailed the "mindful noticing" technique, Stephanie. Thank you! This is a very practical and applicable post for those of us who have struggled with anxiety, flashbacks, etc. - Suzanne from Hidden Joy

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  15. Sad thing is, my thoughts are so negative right now, I'd have a raw wrist in no time from all the rubberband popping. :/ I am going to try it though. I struggle with clinical depression and have been in and out of hospitals for depression and suicide attempts since I was 10 years old. I've overcome a lot, but my relationship with the Lord is not as strong as it once was and I am starting from scratch in many ways. Right now my heart is broken and I am very depressed and up and down a lot. Thankfully I have a good group of friends, and 2 new Bible studies to help me get back on track. It's when I'm alone things are hardest right now.

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  16. Oh girl...I know the difficulty of feeling alone. I am praying right now that God's presence will settle upon your heart in such a way that you will know you are never alone dear sister. Are you seeing a Christian counselor?

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  17. No, I can't afford it, though I did try several months ago to contact a center I used to receive Christian counseling at and they never called me back. I tried another time a while prior to that with the same result. But I honestly can't afford it.

    ~Jen

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  18. Hi Stephanie!

    Thank you so much for sharing these strategies with us.
    I pray for revival! I pray we can control negative, depleting, diminishing, life-sapping self-talk!
    Instead, may God renew our minds and heart, by His love, mercy and grace.

    Much love always!
    Michele Caséca

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  19. Stephanie, thank you for your words and practical tips. Please please pray for me, I feel like I'm losing it and need some love to hold on to.

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  20. Hey Jen...I don't know if this option is availbe where you are, but through our church they will pay for the first few sessions. Then we also have places in our town that will provide counseling on a sliding scale...just some thoughts...counseling helped me so much...I just want everyon to have accesibility to it that wants it!

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  21. Amen Michelle! I love how you called it Life-sapping self talk! Thats exactly what it is!

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  22. I don't know your name anonymous...or your circumstances. But the Lord loves you exactly where you are at. He loves you so much that He gave His live for you so that you could live in freedom. Sending lots of super big hugs your way and praying you will be surrounded by the power of His presence.

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  23. Hi Stephanie! I'm so sorry to hear about your son. I highly ENCOURAGE you to go to the GAPSDIET.com website and read more about this syndrome. The GAPS stands for gut and psychology syndrome. So many kids w autism and other similar disorders are getting some results with gluten and Casein free diets but nut are not seeing full healing...this is due tothe fact that many o ofbthem are not tolerating/digesting all starches/sugars, not just glutens and dairy. The major issue is that all GLuten free alternatives are full of starches! Praying you will check his out - it is hard, but oh SO worth it to see your loved one balanced, at peace and balanced!! In my 9 years in my nutrition practice, I have seen amazing changes in people who struggle w not only health symptoms (including complete resolve of auto immune issues like rheumatoid arthritis, etc) but also mental/emotional imbalances as well! God has shown me so much that can be resolved by just changing our diets! We really are what we eat...and digest ...and eliminate. God has put a passion in me to share this good news. We do have a lot of control over our health by what we put in our mouth!
    Praying for you and your son and special blessings over you both.

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  24. And Stephanie, please don't hesitate to pick my brain on this or anything related to food, diet and symptoms. About a year ago God told me to quit my practice and I didn't understand why...it was thriving and I LOVED doing it! I was training others in the work and it just didn't make sense...but it was God unmistakable!! So I did it. Packed up everything with lots of tears and quit my home practice. I see now that He was needed to prepare me for the immense task of healing my own damaged gut that has plaques me my whole life. He has been showing and teaching me so much! The more I sought Him the more He poured into me! It has been so sweet...doi g the GAPS diet has been very hard on me as I got very sick...but praise God I don't have clients I have to see etc. God n His wisdom knew I needed this time to rest and heal. So thankful for his leading and plan. Also after about a year after quitting my practice God placed in in my heart to share this good news and the passion He's given me as my ministry. So please contact me if you want more info and/or more specific ways I can pray fr you both!! My email is: thehealingpath40@aol.com -are you on FB? If so friend me - search for me: Sue fowler-Hedwall
    Hugs xoxo

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  25. Excuse all the typos - written with my iPhone!

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  26. Jen, Is there a Catholic Charities where you are? They often times see others on a sliding scale. I went to one and only paid a $1.00 per visit. Praying for you
    Debi

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