Healthcare Training Institute - Quality Education since 1979
CE for Psychologist, Social Worker, Counselor, & MFT!!
In the last section, we discussed three steps to help clients overcome their anxiety over travel. These three stages are Motivation; Pleasurable Tie-Ins; and lessening anticipatory anxiety.
As you know, a client’s daily life can affect the frequency and intensity of their panic attacks.
♦ Benefits of Exercise
In addition, exercise reduces muscle tension that accumulates during high periods of stress. Much like a massage, the movement of muscles and tendons releases extra strain brought on by anxiety. Ruth, an anxiety ridden 27 year old client of mine, continuously complained of muscle tension in her neck, legs, and back. Ruth decided to take up regularly exercising at the gym.
Ruth stated, "I started going to the gym during my lunch hour. My boss was a wonderful guy really, but sometimes he’d frazzle my nerves and I would feel the normal muscle tension start up again. I’d come back to the office feeling so wonderful and so relaxed. I’d also feel so kindly to my boss, I’d forget how he was in the morning." As you can see, Ruth could easily release her stress through just an hour of exercise in the middle of her day.
♦ Exercise #1-
As the body adjusts to this new strain, it learns to deliver the oxygen more quickly and efficiently. Tiffany decided to take up jogging. At first, she only did about fifteen minutes a day. Eventually, her tolerance for high aerobic exercise became such that she could go for thirty minutes, four times a week.
Tiffany stated, "When I do get panic attacks, which is rare now, I don’t hyperventilate as badly as I used to. Not only that, I seem to be able to keep my head about myself during the attacks. When I start to feel my chest tighten, my mind goes into ‘coping’ mode, kind of like how I function during running: to get passed these few minutes as painlessly as possible."
As you can see, aerobic exercise has benefited Tiffany in two ways: mentally and physically. Think of your Tiffany. Could he or she benefit from aerobic exercise?
♦ Exercise #2- Non-Aerobic
I suggested that Lily try yoga, which raises a heart rate minimally, but not enough to cause a panic. Not only is yoga non-cardiac, the many varied positions are designed to increase metabolism and reduce muscle tension and stress. Lily stated, "I love yoga now. I take a class three times a week and I also do my own routines on the weekends. I’m so relaxed after doing any of the positions, plus it’s helped me to meet people and make friends in my class. I have a social life again!"
For men, yoga is not always an appealing choice. Weight lifting is another alternative. Like yoga, it works the muscles with minimal increased heart rate. Also, it can increase self-esteem about one’s body. Think of your Lily, who is concerned about inducing a panic attack. Could he or she benefit from anaerobic exercise?
♦ Effective Diet Tips
Diets that are high in fat and sodium, which are ingredients most prominent in fast food restaurants, can also have a negative effect on an anxiety-prone client. According to research, frequent consumption of these types of foods causes a slight addiction in the brain’s opiate receptors. When this happens, the client feels slightly depressed and apathetic until he or she consumes their favorite fatty foods.
When a client is on a diet that is most likely hurting their chances of recovery, I give them a list of "Healthy Diet Guidelines" that will help reduce their stress:
Think of your anxiety-prone client. Could he or she benefit from a slight change in diet?
In this section, we discussed four aspects of exercise and diet to help reduce the severity of panic attacks. We went over the benefits of exercise; aerobic exercise; anaerobic exercise; and diet tips.
In the next section, we will present five breathing exercises that you might consider teaching or recording for your anxious clients, which are 1-to-8 count; 1-to-4 count; 5-to-1 count; three-part breathing; and alternate nostril breathing.