This is a good month for stress control and panic attacks! I don’t know how many of you read about Dan Harris, the ABC News anchor/correspondent, who recently “came out” about his on-air panic attack and the solution he’s found (click here to watch and read more).
I applaud Harris’ bravery in sharing with the world what he admits was one of the worst moments of his life. His story mirrors those I’ve heard from broadcasters for almost thirty years, and they all revolve around adrenaline. Let me explain.
Adrenaline is a hormone that can be our best friend or our worst enemy. It’s helpful when we’re dodging bullets, as Harris did covering war zones, or simply asking your muscles to push harder in the last mile of a race. It’s harmful when we get a burst of it in an inappropriate place like in the anchor chair or voicing in front of the people who hired you for a voiceover job.
What causes these inappropriate bursts? Stress. It can come from thousands of different places. Clients of mine have had panic attacks, or milder anxiety attacks, linked to everything from too much caffeine to divorce worries or flashbacks from previous events such as reporting from a war zone or natural disaster.
I take a multi-faceted approach to dealing with panic/anxiety attacks. If you read my blog often you probably know what those are: Nutrition, Exercise, and Relaxation. To read more about nutrition and exercise, simply click on the category “Stress Control” in the right sidebar. In this post I want to focus on relaxation since that is what Harris found helpful.
Relaxation should be part of your day whether you’re a broadcaster or voiceover artist. It slows down your mind and silences the “monkey mind” that wants to chatter all the time.
That “monkey mind” often wants to make a bad situation worse by talking about the worst possible outcome. For instance, one of the most common things I hear from broadcasters is that they might have slight difficulty pronouncing a word or breathing, and then “monkey mind” begins a mantra of, “It’s going to happen again, and next time it will be worse, etc., etc., etc.” That’s the part of your mind you need to control.
There are many ways to work with relaxation to gain the control. You can use recorded meditations like these by Jon Kabat-Zinn. Simply focusing on your breath is also a great way to calm the mind (check out my video on breathing). You can also listen to relaxing music or do yoga. One client told me she colors in a coloring book for thirty minutes when she comes home from work. (Check out these cool designs to color.) It’s good to pick a mindless, non competitive activity that quietens your mind.
Adding relaxation to your day, whether it’s a 5-minute breathing break or an hour yoga class, is a great way to make sure adrenaline is always your friend.
My ebook is chock full of ways to deal with stress. Click on the title & download it for only $4.99: BROADCASTER’S SURVIVAL GUIDE.