Breathing Room

| November 17, 2014 | 0 Comments

by Mrs. Freud

Anyone who has experienced a panic attack knows the feeling of not having enough room to breathe. Panic attacks are fairly common and are our psyche´s way of communicating that something has got to give. While it is usually only an unwelcome messenger, it is also a scary experience, since it can go as far as to mask as a full blown heart attack. As a psychologist, I find it very fascinating that our psyche can actually do that. Only medical tests can confirm the difference, that´s how real it feels.

Let´s consider the signal that not enough breathing room is available. How can we create more breathing room in our days when we are functioning at full capacity: with long to-do lists, high aspirations for a social life, travels, friends and family? This question also applies to the rest of us who have not gotten to the point of experiencing a panic attack, but felt strong anxieties on occasion.

First of all, we have a very individual threshold for what is comfortably manageable and what is not tolerable. We receive initial warning signals. If we don´t listen, the message get louder and bolder. The psyche whispers at first and then, if not heard, cranks up the volume until nothing else can happen, which would be the moment of a panic attack that looks and feels like a heart attack.

Recognizing warning signs is a first step. Actually listening to them and honoring them is another. The latter is the one that is surprisingly difficult for many people. Logically, it makes little sense, but in reality I often see that people find it inconvenient. They expect themselves to work like machines, without likes and moods and needs every day. They simply just work on their list of chores, ignoring the constant stream of slight daily changes.

It’s important to recognize and honor the warning signs and to create space in our daily schedules to avoid becoming overwhelmed. A simple technique can help to support this: carry a little notebook with you all the time, or use an app on a phone. Write down all your to-dos, your ideas, your insights, anything that takes space up in your mind. It is amazing how liberating this little habit is. It creates the breathing room that we need throughout our days, allowing us to check in with ourselves, to know how we are doing, what kind of things are important to us, what our values and dreams are – all the things that make us human and give us the zest to live.

Full schedules and endless task lists are a true enemy to our humanness. Too much of “doing” strangles the human being in us. It is wonderful when we get a lot done and achieve big and little things in life, but they lose their meaning, if we lose our breathing room.

I invite you to free up your mind so it can prosper. You will be surprised with where it takes you. Some of the most successful people in the world use the booklet technique. They know how important it is for the mind to be unburdened by mundane items so it is free to dream up the really big things that we are capable of creating and to enjoy life wholeheartedly.

Author Sabine Starr is a psychologist licensed in Vienna, Austria, currently living and working in Mission Hills. She has written numerous articles for professional psychology journals. For further information, visit www.starrcoaching.com and follow her blog at www.HealthwithTaste.blogspot.com; and a new social media offering is www.facebook.com/StarrCoaching.

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