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Panic Attacks – Tip – Square Breathing

Why do we have panic attacks and how can we help to control them?

I know I usually write about food but this has come up in my family life and also heard about a few people suffering panic attacks so I thought I would love to give everyone a super simple way to deal with these horrible events. They really are events, because after you have had one you can be left completely exhausted, mentally and physically drained and worst of all for me was the knowledge that I might suffer these for a long time. However, “square breathing” is something I had to learn and want to share with you.

To give a little bit of background as to why this information was shared with me, I had to spend some time in a psychiatric hospital and I was assigned a relaxation therapist for a few weeks after I was discharged. She taught me this and when I had to take it to the real world, I must admit it worked for me.

So before I get into the thing that “worked for me” I did a wee bit of research because that’s how I roll and I was absolutely aware that my experience of a panic attack may differ from everyone else.

Signs of panic attack

Some of the signs you are having a panic attack (btw, everyone is different) you may get all or just a few. Sudden intense anxiety, shaking, crying, feeling disorientated, rapid and irregular heartbeats, dry mouth, breathlessness, sweating, dizziness, chills, hot flashes, tightness in the throat, sense of impending doom or danger, fear of loss or control or even fear of death. .

Are panic and anxiety attacks the same?

This part of my research was actually a learning curve for me because I have always assumed a panic attack and an anxiety attack is the same thing. They aren’t and here is the difference and I absolutely wish I had known this years ago. An anxiety attack is a response to a perceived threat , like you saw an abusive ex or something, you already know the danger, your body responds with anxiety. The difference with a panic attack is it seems to come from nowhere, u don’t see the danger, you just cannot shake this.

Triggers for panic attacks

So triggers for a panic attack are things like over breathing (I researched this because I have never heard this term) so hyperventilation, when you breathe too quickly and you are not getting enough oxygen to the brain, hence the dizziness. Long periods of stress, physical changes after illness, change of environment and lets not forget our main ones, trauma, whatever kind – whether the death of  a loved one to….actually I wont even go there because I guess if you are reading this you know what has made u traumatized. But please be aware and hopeful because life after trauma and panic attacks doesn’t need to be terrifying. Feeling afraid after trauma is absolutely normal and panic attacks can happen when something or someone reminds you of the trauma. Like I said before though, your body is reacting and it is scary.

Square breathing

Here is one of my ways to deal with panic attacks, sorry for boring you with the research but I have never claimed to not be a research nerd.

Find something with 4 corners, anything, it could be a bus when you are waiting at a station, your tv when you feel overwhelmed, anything with 4 corners. What I love about this technique is that we generally all have phones so we are looking at something with 4 corners, or a tv, whatever it is, just find something you can count to 4 with. So focus on the top left hand corner and breathe in all the way along to the top right hand corner, then breathe out to the bottom right hand corner, them breathe back up to the beginning corner and repeat as long as you need.

Don’t even worry about how long it takes for you to get there either, people who think you can keep breathing out for longer than you have breath are not getting the point, your breathing will naturally slow down because your mind isn’t focused on panic. “Square breathing.” Genuinely hope this helps at least one person. Stay safe everyone

Why do we have panic attacks and how can we help to control them?

I know I usually write about food but this has come up in my family life and also heard about a few people suffering panic attacks so I thought I would love to give everyone a super simple way to deal with these horrible events. They really are events, because after you have had one you can be left completely exhausted, mentally and physically drained and worst of all for me was the knowledge that I might suffer these for a long time. However, “square breathing” is something I had to learn and want to share with you.

To give a little bit of background as to why this information was shared with me, I had to spend some time in a psychiatric hospital and I was assigned a relaxation therapist for a few weeks after I was discharged. She taught me this and when I had to take it to the real world, I must admit it worked for me.

So before I get into the thing that “worked for me” I did a wee bit of research because that’s how I roll and I was absolutely aware that my experience of a panic attack may differ from everyone else.

Signs of panic attack

Some of the signs you are having a panic attack (btw, everyone is different) you may get all or just a few. Sudden intense anxiety, shaking, crying, feeling disorientated, rapid and irregular heartbeats, dry mouth, breathlessness, sweating, dizziness, chills, hot flashes, tightness in the throat, sense of impending doom or danger, fear of loss or control or even fear of death. .

Are panic and anxiety attacks the same?

This part of my research was actually a learning curve for me because I have always assumed a panic attack and an anxiety attack is the same thing. They aren’t and here is the difference and I absolutely wish I had known this years ago. An anxiety attack is a response to a perceived threat , like you saw an abusive ex or something, you already know the danger, your body responds with anxiety. The difference with a panic attack is it seems to come from nowhere, u don’t see the danger, you just cannot shake this.

Triggers for panic attacks

So triggers for a panic attack are things like over breathing (I researched this because I have never heard this term) so hyperventilation, when you breathe too quickly and you are not getting enough oxygen to the brain, hence the dizziness. Long periods of stress, physical changes after illness, change of environment and lets not forget our main ones, trauma, whatever kind – whether the death of  a loved one to….actually I wont even go there because I guess if you are reading this you know what has made u traumatized. But please be aware and hopeful because life after trauma and panic attacks doesn’t need to be terrifying. Feeling afraid after trauma is absolutely normal and panic attacks can happen when something or someone reminds you of the trauma. Like I said before though, your body is reacting and it is scary.

Square breathing

Here is one of my ways to deal with panic attacks, sorry for boring you with the research but I have never claimed to not be a research nerd.

Find something with 4 corners, anything, it could be a bus when you are waiting at a station, your tv when you feel overwhelmed, anything with 4 corners. What I love about this technique is that we generally all have phones so we are looking at something with 4 corners, or a tv, whatever it is, just find something you can count to 4 with. So focus on the top left hand corner and breathe in all the way along to the top right hand corner, then breathe out to the bottom right hand corner, them breathe back up to the beginning corner and repeat as long as you need.

Don’t even worry about how long it takes for you to get there either, people who think you can keep breathing out for longer than you have breath are not getting the point, your breathing will naturally slow down because your mind isn’t focused on panic. “Square breathing.” Genuinely hope this helps at least one person. Stay safe everyone


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Put Plenty on your Plate – Get at least 5 a day!!

Welcome back to healthy eating week, where today I’d like to discuss how getting our 5 a day can really help our mental health. There are days that even as a vegetable fiend I just don’t get my 5 a day. I do try but sometimes it’s an impossibility. As I said yesterday if there are medical conditions that make this impossible for you, consult your doctor about safer ways to include more fruit and veg.

What is a portion? An adult sized portion should be about 80 grams of fresh, frozen or canned or 30g of dried fruits. 150ml of fruit or vegetable juice or a smoothie is also a portion, but do tryto limit these to 150ml per day. There are some simple ways to add more fruit and veg to your diet. You can add extra fruit and veg to the things you already know and love. Add extra vegetables to pasta sauces, pizzas, soups, sandwiches etc.

Clear out the junk food.

Even those of us with the best intentions could be sidetracked to a chocolate biscuit instead of a fresh apple. If it’s not in the house, it ain’t there to tempt you. Even just replacing one snack a day for an extra portion of fruit or veg is a great first step. Vegetable sticks with a dip is a great option if you are not too keen on fruit. A hummus or a salsa is a great way to be adding more fibre as we went into yesterday.

Why Beneficial to Mental Health?

So now to the point, why is this so beneficial to our mental health? Let’s see what I found. There are so many vitamins and minerals that would take me forever to explain them all and why they affect us, so I will only explain a few of the main ones that affect our mental health. I’ll also give a few examples of what vegetables have these specific vitamins and minerals.
Low levels of folate have been linked to depression. We can find folate of folic acid in leafy green veg, spinach, romaine lettuce, asparagus, broccoli.

Depression, tiredness, lethargy, insomnia – sound familiar?

When we don’t have enough vitamin B1 we have problems like memory loss, anxiety, depression, irritability and insomnia. Vitamin B1 is found in cauliflower, oranges, potatoes, asparagus and kale.
Vitamin B deficiency can show extreme tiredness, lack of energy, breathlessness, feeling faint, headaches, pale skin, palpitations. This is of course if it is an extreme deficiency. Foods that contain vitamin B are spinach, beetroot, potatoes, mushrooms, and alfalfa.
Not having enough vitamin D is linked to depression. Our bodies can produce it naturally by being in the sun, but we can also help our bodies out with things like oranges, mushrooms, spinach, kale and okra.
I have covered 4 but there are so many more to consider. This just gives a great example of how important what we eat really is. We need these vitamins and minerals and the fibre to keep us not only physically fitter but also mentally healthier. They help us by giving us more energy and help us think more clearly.


I hope you have enjoyed today’s short piece and look forward to discussing proteins tomorrow.
Take care

Families in Trauma and Recovery Volunteer – M


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Healthy Eating week – Monday – Focus on Fibre

Healthy Eating Week

Healthy Eating Week 13th June2022 – 17th June 2022


Happy Monday everyone, I hope this week finds you well. The British Nutrition Foundation are encouraging us this week to take a look at our diets. There will be a different topic for each day. This got me thinking, how does the food we eat affect us mentally? So along with a few little tips I’ve researched to help us eat healthier, stay hydrated and waste less I thought it would be good to look into a little bit more depth as to why it is so important for us physically and mentally. If anyone has medical problems that could prevent them following these guidelines, consult with a doctor first.

Today’s topic is Focus on fibre – for meals and snacks.


Fibre is such an important part of our diet. It helps to maintain our gut health, normalizes bowel movements, lowers bad cholesterol levels and many many more things. There are so many ways we can increase the amount of fibre we are having, and some are very simple swaps we
can make in daily life, for example using whole grain products like wholegrain breads and pastas. Snacks like vegetable sticks or a piece of fruit are great ways to increase our fibre. If the thought of giving up our normal snacks isn’t appealing to you, did you know that dark chocolate (70-85% cacao) has a high percentage of dietary fibre? Popcorn is also a good source of fibre as long as too much salt and sugar has been added to it. This was great news for me because while I really love vegetables, the thought of eating celery and carrots sticks for the rest of my snacking life did leave a lot to be desired.

The Happier the gut, the happier the mind.


So, with the basics covered, we know what it is and how to get more, but, why is it important for our mental health? I got out my trusty laptop and did some research so that you don’t need to. Studies suggest that a high fibre diet can potentially lower inflammation. With inflammation there is pain present. I’m sure we can agree that when in pain we are not really our happiest. So the result of the lower inflammation is that symptoms of depression were reduced. Another study I found noticed a significant reduction in anxiety and high psychological distress. The gut can send signals to our brain when it’s troubled. Who would have thought that fibre could be so important for our mind? Basically, the happier the gut, the happier the mind. I know this to be true from personal health issues.


I hope this short piece has helped a little. Stay tuned for tomorrow, I have some great info on why getting our 5 a day really helps our mental health. Stay safe everyone

“Still I rise” Maya Angelou

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How could I possibly add anything or take anything away from this wonderful piece shared time and again, and which resonates even more strongly during this most difficult time the human race is facing. Needs no explanation.


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“Still, I rise” Maya Angelou

How could I possibly add anything or take anything away from this wonderful piece, shared time and again – as it resonates so deeply within the human heart – and even more during such a time as this. Needs no explanation


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#REFLECTIONS day 2

#mentalhealthawarenessweek

Why are reflections important, especially during this Covid crisis? Do you see things in black and white? Or, do you recognize that its never really that simple – there are many varied shades in between? Well, if we are not careful we can get quite overwhelmed with our thoughts very easily. During this #mentalhealthawarenessweek we are being given time to slow down slightly and think about how we can do to be kind to ourselves, take the time to contemplate on where we are going and reflect on what we are learning. Think of our lives in terms of different shades – never just black and white!

If we can use this time productively, it will likely not feel like such a waste of time. Many of us are realising that we are being given time to reevaluate where we want to be heading in the future and have made some drastic changes. Others have decided they want to make smaller changes – as that is all they can cope with and finally some are just struggling to stay alive day by day. Whatever stage we are at – let’s not judge each other – just remember that we are all struggling in one way or another and we all need some compassion, care and reflection time. Enjoy those starry nights whenever you can.

Take the above images – stunning in their solitary starkness – and yet a reminder too that we are all connected – in one way or another. We all look on that same moon every night and have done so for generation after generation. Even if we would rather not think about being connected to some individuals 🙂 , its that connection that draws us all together. And connection is the thing we are all seeking – whether we admit it or not. It is a basic human need – and sometimes we use our animals to fill that need too. I was reminded of that recently by a friend who put it so eloquently “the world is my home and people are my family”.

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