Health Anxiety: A Lump in my throat and fear of not being able to breathe
photo by Foxtongue
In this podcast we answer another listener question: "I've been experiencing health anxiety for the past three months that has been slowly getting better. However, I am still experiencing a few things here and there.
I've been experiencing a knot-like feeling in my throat that you sometimes get when you're really emotional, for example. It worries me that I think my throat will close up and I won't be able to breathe. Can this be related to anxiety?
I've noticed that this only happens when I really start to concentrate on this feeling in my throat. From what I gather about anxiety, it seems to target what you fear most, and as crazy as it sounds I fear that something will stop me from breathing.I would really appreciate an answer and if anyone else has experienced this before?"
Ananga: This is a great question, thank you for sending it in. This is something that a lot of people experience and it can definitely be related to anxiety. You are absolutely right - an anxious mind will key into the things we fear most, it's almost as if our own mind haunts us; it will focus in on the things we worry about and keep replaying our anxieties.
There's a lot you can do to help yourself. Here are a few things to work with:
1. Seek medical support and put your mind at rest Everyone gets anxious about their health from time to time. And sometimes we don't want to get it checked because we dread hearing an unwanted answer. But the first thing to do is, if you suspect there is a medical issue, go and talk to your doctor. Get it checked, get any necessary tests run and put your mind at rest.
This usually isn't something medical. And, in the unlikely event that it is, we all know that the earlier we deal with things the better. I know of several people who had health anxiety that felt great relief after getting things checked, and in the handful of cases where there was something requiring treatment they were no longer anxious and got on with their treatment quite calmly. It was the anticipatory anxiety, the "what if" thinking that was causing them to suffer. Once they had something solid to work with, they were fine.
But again, usually there is nothing medical to worry about, and it's just the mind being restless and it's the mind we need to look after.
2. Know that you won't stop breathing due to anxiety Your body and your throat are miraculous constructions. The throat is brilliantly designed to stay open. It's supported by special rings of cartilage that hold it open and stop it closing, or collapsing.
3. Reduce anxiety by getting to work with your breath Start practising some relaxing breathing exercises, start developing awareness of your breath coming and going, feel your breath flowing through your healthy, open airway.
There are some breathing exercises that can help you manage anxiety while at the same time focusing on your breath flowing freely.
I recommend practising a couple of times a day - morning and evening is ideal - even if it's only for a few minutes. There is a very simple calming breathing exercise called the Bumble Bee Breath or, if you would prefer guided support, Shann has recorded an anxiety reducing breathing exercise which you can download from the iTunes music store on our new Transition to Calm Collection.
4. Release your fears with EFT The other thing that is brilliant for health worries is EFT Tapping, often it's as simple as looking up the EFT sequence and tapping through the points - this is something we've spoken about on a previous podcast: Using EFT for Anxiety Relief.
When you have a specific fear or phobia you can use this super effective technique based on acupuncture points to dissolve your anxiety and bring your resourceful intelligence back online.
Shann: Wow. I was just sitting here thinking we have so many resources. When you're doing the work and sharing you don't often think about how much we have that can be supportive. Thank you Ananga for a wonderful explanation and some good points in getting to the Doctor if you think it's something medically related, and coming back to your breath, investigating EFT and all of these different options that we have to come back to that calm place and understanding that you are OK and your throat is not going to close up.
Listen to the full podcast here, or on iTunes.
Resources Mentioned in this Podcast:
Transition to Calm - Calming Breathing Exercise