Many people associate a panic attack and public speaking. They usually have had an anxiety-producing public speaking experience. They may test that past memory of public speaking again, but often the same anxiety reaction results. People who have to speak publicly on a frequent basis and suffer from panic attacks are always searching for a panic attack remedy.
Ana had many risk factors for panic attacks when she entered high school. Her mother had a history of anxiety as well as her older brother. Ana was successfully able to avoid a speech class until her final semester of school. In order to graduate, she was going to have to take speech.
Although she had never received a diagnosis of panic attacks or an anxiety disorder, Ana had always dreaded taking a public speaking class. Just the idea of standing up in front of a class of her peers caused Ana to feel dizzy and nauseous.
When Ana walked into her first day of class, the teacher could see how nervous she was. He came up to Ana after class and discussed her obvious discomfort with this public speaking class. Ana discussed her physical reaction to having to speak in front of her peers. She explained to her teacher how she was:
Short of Breath
Ana’s teacher recommended that she visit with the school counselor before their next class meeting. Ana was embarrassed by her reaction and was even more anxious about having to meet with the school counselor, but she knew that she was not going to be able to graduate if she could not figure out some way to get through this class.
The school counselor was very familiar with the signs of a panic attack and especially with students feeling uncomfortable about speaking in front of their friends. To help Ana get through her next day of speech class the counselor recommended that Ana stand up in front of her family every time she wanted to talk that evening.
So Ana told her family what she was trying to do to help get over her fear of public speaking. At dinner, Ana stood up every time she asked to have an item passed to her. Before bed, Ana stood in front of her parents and brothers and did a pretend speech.
Although speaking in front of her family was a lot different than speaking in front of her peers, it did help her get through the next day of class without having a full blown panic attack. Ana was extremely uncomfortable during her speech class but was able to focus and get through the class.
She then was recommended to join our toastmaster group and I had an opportunity to be friend her and coach her through her fear of public speaking. The warm environment and encouragement of a team inspired her to keep trying because the more she does it the more she will overcome.
As the semester continued on, Ana asked some of her friends to come to her house the night before she had a big speech due. She would then practice her speech on her close friends and family until she was able to get through it without an extreme amount of anxiety.
The technique Ana used to overcome her panic attacks is called systematic desensitization and is one of the most widely used remedies for people suffering from panic attacks.
I hope this story has encourage you to take the risk and face your fears. I want you to leave you with some action steps to take with you on your journey to conquer your fears:
1) Acknowledge your fears
2) Make a decision to take on one at a time
3) Acquire an accountability partner that will empower you and hold you accountable
4) Make goals and plans to achieve those goals
5) Take Action
Take Care and God Bless,
Greg “Da Spokesman” Stargell
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