What causes anxiety attacks, and what you need to do about them
If you’re a lover of E! Entertainment, then you’ll know that two of the most anticipated regional concerts of the year have been officially cancelled. Pop music sensations Selena Gomez and Zayn Malik recently postponed their Middle East gigs citing anxiety and panic attacks as their reasons. Gomez has been diagnosed with Lupus, an auto-immune disease that leads to her pre-performance anxiety attacks, while Malik has stated that he was anxious about performing solo in Dubai, hence the cancellation of his “one night only” show.
These twenty-something celebrities speaking out about their health and anxiety issues is very significant, since it sheds light on and encourages discussion of an issue that can often be seen as taboo.
“Some amount of anxiety and nervousness is normal as it actually helps you go through your daily routine and move forward,”says Dr Iram Ahmedi, a Gulf-based counsellor and hypnotherapist. “But when these nerves start to cause heart palpitations, excessive perspiration, irritable bowel syndrome and a general incapacity to perform, that’s when you know you need help.”
While those pre-presentation butterflies are normal, Dr Ahmedi says having a positive conversation in your mind and being your own cheerleader is the first step anyone who may experience anxiety needs to take.
“Stage fright is a big thing, as when you’re nervous, you go in this loop of repetitive, negative thoughts and more into thinking, ‘What if I can’t perform up to my previous standards and how is the audience going to react?’. These thoughts keep playing so much in the mind, they incapacitate the person.”
The symptoms and reasons for panic attacks can vary from person to person, but Dr Ahmedi has an overarching idea of what could be causing them for the current social-media-obsessed generation. “Social media and being hooked to your phone contribute to anxiety because they do not allow you to relax. And one of the key ways of dealing with anxiety is relaxation,” she says. “You’re always connected, so the stress factor increases, and those personalities prone to anxiety can fall prey to this.”
Aside from seeing a professional, Dr Ahmedi has tips on how anxiety can be dealt with at home, or in the office. “Deep breathing is really effective, doing yoga and going for a walk outdoors also helps,” she says. “If you can work on stopping negative thoughts, that’s good, too. When at work, have an hour in the day that is your worry o’clock – so you can only worry in that hour. As irrational as it sounds, it really helps, as you’re training your brain to believe that you don’t need to worry all day.”
Most of us don’t need to worry about performing to millions, but anxiety is a problem in many homes nowadays. Talking about it is no longer a taboo, so if you think you or a loved one could benefit from therapy, don’t be afraid to reach out. Visit www.timeoutbahrain.com/bodyandmind to learn about the country’s therapists.
Four to try Ways to relax in Bahrain Get pampered One of the easiest, quickest ways to relax is by booking yourself in for a soothing massage. Hot stone, Balinese, Swedish – whatever your preferences, there is a treatment here for you. Visit www.timeoutbahrain.com/bodyandmind for options.
Beditation All the seminars, classes and lectures at the Bahrain Meditation Centre are free, but they do ask you to leave a donation. Tune into your inner thoughts and learn how to keep calm in the most stressful situations. Free. Um Al Hassam (17 712 545).
Park life Take a stroll through one of Bahrain’s green parks. Over at Arad Bay there is a great walking track by the water. Or go to Budaiya Botanical Park, one of the greenest spots on the island. Visit www.timeoutbahrain.com to learn about many of the parks here.
Yoga From bikram (hot) to anti-gravity and plain old hatha, there is a studio for almost every type of yoga in Bahrain these days. Try a relaxing home session on the mat in Barbar with Yogini Yoga. From BD3 (60 mins, walk-in). Barbar, www.yoginiyogabahrain.com.