But if you have more than a couple of these episodes, it’s time to start thinking about mindfulness meditation. Jon Kabat-Zinn, founding executive director of the Center for Mindfulness in Medicine, Health Care, and Society and professor emeritus at the University of Massachusetts Medical School, developed the practice of mindfulness-based stress reduction (MBSR), which helps relieve panic disorder, among other stress-related ailments. In his book Full Catastrophe Living, he explains that by becoming aware of our situations and ourselves, we can restore proportion to our reactions. We can also learn to find ease in discomfort. For example, with mindfulness, “Oh no! I can’t breathe! I’m sweating! Am I dying?” sounds more like “I feel hot and am having trouble breathing. I’m having an anxious moment, but it will pass.”
Be Easy at Heart
When you’re having a spell of full-body discomfort that includes chest pain and lightheadedness, it can be really hard to determine whether you’re having something as serious as a heart attack or as relatively mild as a panic attack. To do so, it helps to understand the symptoms associated with each condition and to understand your own history of anxiety. That’s advice you can take to heart.