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

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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]

Doctors at a British Hospital Are Now Prescribing Houseplants for Depression

Halfpoint/iStock via Getty Images
Halfpoint/iStock via Getty Images

You don’t have to take a trip to the countryside to reap the mental health benefits of being around nature—a single plant might just do the trick (as long as you can keep it alive).

Fast Company reports that the Cornbrook Medical Practice in Manchester, England, is one of the first in the country to prescribe houseplants to help treat anxiety and depression. It’s part of a horticultural therapy program led by a local nonprofit called Sow the City, which leads initiatives to foster community gardens in Manchester.

It’s just as much about building a sense of community through gardening as it is about the therapeutic advantages of caring for your own house plants. “There’s evidence that people who are socially isolated have worse health outcomes,” Sow the City director Jon Ross told Fast Company. The organization has also assisted Cornbrook Medical Practice in establishing its own herb garden, which patients are welcome to help maintain. Ross and his team work closely with doctors at different offices to optimize each garden for its particular clientele—sometimes, that means building a small, flora-filled sanctuary that’s just for rest and relaxation.

Other times, it’s a fully-fledged vegetable garden. For a “Hospital Beds” program at another hospital, Sow the City installed raised vegetable beds where long-term mental illness patients can soak in some sunlight, socialize with each other, and take pride in seeing the fruits (and vegetables) of their labors flourish. There’s an added physical health benefit, too: The patients get to eat the produce. “We really don’t have good food in our public hospitals,” Ross said.

Sow the City also makes sure that no green thumbs are necessary to participate in any gardening party. Its members populate the gardens with already-healthy, easy-to-tend plants, and they’ll even train patients on how to care for them.

If you’re thinking a garden might improve your own quality of life—doctor’s orders or not—here are 10 easy-to-grow plants for first-time gardeners.

[h/t Fast Company]

You’re Probably Brushing Your Teeth All Wrong

busracavus/iStock via Getty Images
busracavus/iStock via Getty Images

No matter how much you hate brushing your teeth, there's no getting around it: Regular brushing helps you maintain a healthy mouth as well as a healthy heart. But even if you've been doing it since you were tall enough to reach your bathroom sink, there's a chance you're not brushing your teeth properly. Fortunately, improving your brushing habits can be as simple as tweaking your technique and taking an extra minute out of your day.

According to Popular Science, the key to productive brushing is duration. Both the American Dental Association and the British Dental Association recommend brushing for at least two minutes at a time twice a day—usually in the morning and at night. Two minutes may not sound like a long time, but unless you're counting down the seconds, it's hard to know exactly how long you've brushed. The easiest fix for this is setting a timer: That way, you can brush mindlessly without worrying about when to stop.

That's not to say every brushing session that hits the two-minute mark will have the same results. When you brush, your goal should be to clean every tooth without abusing your gums. That means gently sweeping the bristles in short, back-and-forth motions at a 45-degree angle to your gums. If your gums feel sore, even after you switch to a gentler technique, the problem may lie in the brush itself. Make sure you choose a tool with soft bristles, as stiff bristles will only cause damage to the sensitive areas of your mouth.

Sometimes even setting a timer, upgrading your toothbrush, and improving your technique isn't enough to combat the central problem of oral hygiene: It isn't very exciting. The more you dislike brushing your teeth, the less likely you are to do it, so you should find any opportunity you can to make it a more rewarding experience. One trick is listening to your toothbrush sounds: Research has shown that people who listened to audio of their brushing played back to them felt cleaner and more accomplished afterwards.

[h/t Popular Science]

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