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Where to Begin? Panic, PTS, Insomnia & Depression All Get Worse at Holiday Time..

08 Dec

A woman with a long history of anxiety, panic attacks, posttraumatic stress, depression and insomnia wonders where to begin with listening to guided imagery as the holidays approach and her emotional resilience takes a hit.

She asks:

Hi, Belleruth, For many years I have suffered from panic disorder and PTSD, as well as sleepless nights, anxiety and depression. All these conditions get worse with the approaching holiday season.

What CD's would be best for all? I would be most comfortable taking a natural approach to wellness and appreciate any advice. Thank you,

Melinda K.

Dear Melinda,

Sorry you have all these miserable conditions and symptoms to contend with. We do have specific guided imagery to help.

Even though it's not a complete overlap, I think it's safe to say that all of these challenges – the panic attacks, sleep problems and anxiety – come with the territory of posttraumatic stress. Depression, too, to some extent, if only because coping with all of this can certainly be wearying and depressing. But depression is essentially a separate condition.

If you can afford all of them, I'd go ahead and get the Relieve Stress, Healing Trauma, Healthful Sleep, Help with Panic Attacks and Ease Depression audios. I'd start out repeatedly listening to only one of these for a week or two – preferably the one that targets your peskiest and most troubling symptoms. So, if that's panic attacks, just listen to those segments, once or twice a day for a couple weeks. If it's insomnia or interrupted sleep, start with the sleep audio.

Let the words and music saturate you before moving on to the next audio, and then listen to that new one alone for a week or two, then alternate it with the first one. You want to give yourself time to really absorb the messages and images before moving on to the next audio, so don't rush this or overwhelm yourself with too much too fast. (For some people, this can be a week; for others, 3 or 4. You'll need to play it by ear and listen to yourself for when you're ready to move on.)

Keep adding audios to the mix in this way. I guess it's like slowly adding olive oil to a good, mustardy vinaigrette – you want to do this incrementally to ensure perfect emulsification (or integration), if you know what I mean.

The most complex and emotionally evocative is the PTS imagery, so you may want to save that for last, after you've got all the other self-calming skills under your belt.

If you can combine this with other kinds of calming interventions, like Reiki or Healing Touch treatments; a tapping protocol like EFT or EMDR; or a moving meditation practice like yoga or qigong or even the Walking Meditation on our Relieve Stress title, that will increase the speed and depth of your success with the guided imagery.

If you can only afford a couple of these, you might want to start with Panic Attacks or Relieve Stress first, then gradually moving on to Healing Trauma.

I hope this helps, with your experience of the holidays and well beyond!

All best,
Belleruth

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Belleruth Naparstek

Psychotherapist, author and guided imagery pioneer Belleruth Naparstek is the creator of the popular Health Journeys guided imagery audio series. Her latest book on imagery and posttraumatic stress, Invisible Heroes: Survivors of Trauma and How They Heal (Bantam Dell), won the Spirituality & Health Top 50 Books Award.