The Body's Calm Switch
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It all started 3 years ago when Brian was driving home after a late night, where he drank a large serving of coffee in order to keep himself awake – He soon began to feel a tingling sensation in his chest and throughout his body when he felt his throat tighten and his heart begin accelerating to an extreme pace.
He was very concerned as he managed to slow the car down and pull over as he struggled to regain his normal breathing pattern and reduce the terrifying feeling that he was about to suddenly die trapped and alone in his car. Brian said that “Never before had I been so terrified. I felt so lonely and scared. It was bad enough that I was going to die, worse that I was going to die alone . . .” Once he managed to clam himself down, the feelings passed, and he drove home to see his friends and research this strange event on the web. The first thing that he discovered was that his experience was a match for the search term “Panic Attack”, and he explained that “I was flabbergasted. I had no reason I thought to be panicky. I wasn’t that sort of person,”
However, he soon began to fear the onset of panic attacks, which could surprise him at any time for apparently any reason. He began to avoid social events, shopping, and going out for a cup of coffee for fear that one of these attacks would suddenly invade his body and cause another surge of fear and extreme heart-rate. He visited medical experts who prescribed anti-anxiety medications, but Brian was not convinced that medication was a true long-term solution to this strange and newly present physical and psychological challenge. He invested hundreds of dollars on books that presented simple psychological theories in extraordinarily complex terms, where the many layers of re-contextualization seemed to confuse the simplicity of the techniques that they wanted to teach. Book after book was ineffective at shifting his state, so one day he sat down to relax and read just one more book that he had discovered, and without reading anything about their techniques, he suddenly found himself calm and relaxed.
The sudden relaxation response was surprising to him, because he found himself calm without actually knowing why he was in that state. Recognizing that a switch had been flipped in his body and mind, he began looking inward to discover the underlying relaxation mechanism that he had inadvertently activated. Upon further investigation he found that every person has a basic biological “on” and “off” switch for anxiety, which can be activated and de-activated at any time. Brian believed that actors trigger the same mechanism when they shift their biological behavior in order to experience the range of emotions that they need to portray in order to bring a character to life. Through shifting one’s physical behavior one can shift their emotional states. For Brian it was obvious that many people lead a generally high-intensity lifestyle that can result in background stress that could be suddenly triggered into a full-blown panic attack or anxiety attack if they do not shift their behavior and therefore shift their interior states. Brian explains that, “The solution then is to change the way we use our bodies to allow our anxieties to naturally dissipate”, and that “You can bypass all this complicated getting over your fear of being scared of anxiety attacks because you won't be anxious or stressed about pretty much anything. You will become one of those calm, unflappable confident people.”
Through simply behaving in a manner that appears to be calm and confident, one can become calm and confident. This simple technique taps into the body’s natural states in order to quiet the mind, relax muscle tension, and shift the body into a state of stillness.
Through simply shifting the way in which people use their bodies, Brian believes that anybody can learn how to completely banish anxiety from their lives.
For the sake of anonymity, the subject of this article is referred to as Brian. His original first-person account can be found here: http://www.experienceproject.com/stories/Overcame-Severe-Social-Anxiety-Disorder/3038319