How 'Leaning In' to Anxiety Can Help You Deal With a Panic Attack

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iStock

Panic attacks are hard to describe to those who've never experienced one, and unmistakable to those who have. They're often characterized by light-headedness, difficulty breathing, and a sense of impending danger. These unpleasant sensations can appear suddenly and without warning, making them even more terrifying. Not all panic attacks look or feel the same, and as such they shouldn't be treated the same. But for some sufferers, a strategy recommended by one psychologist could help make episodes more manageable.

As Arash Emamzadeh writes for Psychology Today, "leaning into" the symptoms of your anxiety can be healthier than resisting them. That may sound counterintuitive: How can going along with the fear that something horrible is about to happen be good for you? But this method is less about giving into your anxious thoughts and more about tuning into your physical sensations and staying grounded in the moment.

There's some science that suggests this works. According to research presented in April 2018, just a few minutes of mindfulness meditation—being conscious of your body and environment without assigning value to anything you feel—was enough to reduce anxiety in people with anxiety disorders.

When you're having a panic attack, regaining control of your thoughts may pose a challenge. One place to start is by asking yourself some questions. Emamzadeh recommends "What am I feeling right now?," "What am I sensing in my body?," and "How am I interpreting these feelings and sensations?" If your panic is primarily related to thoughts about things that might happen, or have happened in the past, focusing on what's actually going on in your body may alleviate some of your fear.

Of course, this isn't the case for everyone. For some people, the physical symptoms of a panic attack—such as rapid breathing or a pounding heartbeat—may further contribute to the idea that something bad is happening and only exacerbate the sensation. If that's the case, try focusing on an unrelated sensation, like the feeling of your feet on the floor or a breeze blowing in your face. You can also try naming, touching, and describing objects in your immediate area.

This, of course, is only one psychologist's advice, and just because it works for some people doesn't mean it will work for all. The best way to prepare for a panic attack is to consult a doctor and figure out a treatment that's tailored to fit your needs.

[h/t Psychology Today]

This Cooling Weighted Blanket Helps You Sleep Soundly Without Overheating

Research has shown that weighted blankets, originally made for kids with anxiety and sensory processing issues, may also alleviate stress and anxiety in adults as well. But if you're someone who gets hot easily, sleeping beneath a heavy blanket at night may feel uncomfortable. The Hush Iced, a cooling version of the popular Hush blanket, is designed to change that.

One of the most common complaints Hush Blankets received from customers after releasing its original weighted blanket was that it made users too hot. So the team at Hush tweaked the outer material to make it friendlier to people who are prone to overheating while still providing the soothing deep-touch pressure of a weighted blanket.

The new Hush Iced, currently raising money on Kickstarter, comes with a special ultra-cooling cover. The thin bamboo and cotton fabric wicks away sweat and helps maintain your body temperature through the night. Inside is Hush's classic weighted blanket, with weight distribution technology that helps you feel relaxed and secure in bed. If you already have a Hush weighted blanket at home, the cooling cover is also available separately.

The Hush Iced weigh 15 to 25 pounds, and comes in standard (48-by-78-inch) and queen (60-by-80-inch) sizes. (Generally, Hush recommends choosing the weight of your blanket based on body weight—check out the Hush site for more information on selecting the right one.)

Buy it on Kickstarter starting at $128. The cooling cover is available on its own for $39.

Chronic Pain Happens Differently in Men and Women

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iStock.com/PeopleImages

Women often feel colder than men due to physical differences. Now, a new study shows that the two sexes have different biological processes underlying a specific kind of pain, too. As WIRED reports, research published in the journal Brain revealed that different cells and proteins were activated in men and women with neuropathic pain—a condition that is often chronic, with symptoms including a burning or shooting sensation. While scientists say further research is needed, these findings could potentially change the way we treat conditions involving chronic pain.

A team of Texas-based neurologists and neuroscientists looked for RNA expressions in the sensory neurons of spinal tumors that had been removed from eight women and 18 men. Some of the patients had pain as a result of nerve compression, while others had not experienced any chronic pain. While studying the neurons of women with pain, researchers noticed that protein-like molecules called neuropeptides, which modulate neurons, were highly activated. For the men, immune system cells called macrophages were most active.

"This represents the first direct human evidence that pain seems to be as sex-dependent in its underlying biology in humans as we have been suggesting for a while now, based on experiments in mice," Jeffrey Mogil, a professor of pain studies at Montreal's McGill University, who was not involved in the Brain study, tells WIRED.

So what exactly do these new findings mean for sufferers of chronic pain? Considering that clinical trials and drug manufacturers have traditionally failed to distinguish between the sexes when it comes to developing pain medication, the study could potentially form a foundation for sex-specific pain therapies that could prove more effective. This might be especially promising for women, who are more likely to have some condition that cause persistent pain, such as migraines or fibromyalgia.

"I think that 10 years from now, when I look back at how papers I've published have had an impact, this one will stick out," Dr. Ted Price, a neuroscience professor and one of the paper's authors, said in a statement. "I hope by then that we are designing clinical trials better considering sex as a biological variable, and that we understand how chronic pain is driven differently in men and women."

[h/t WIRED]

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