Video: Hibernate, Adapt, or Migrate (a TEDx Talk)

Here is a great TEDx talk by Summer Beretsky, in which she draws links between typical survival behavior of the animal world and the options we have in addressing anxiety and panic attacks. In the animal world, when an environment is not healthy or supportive to an individual or population, they do one of three things:

1 - HIBERNATE - close off from the world until the environment improves

2 - ADAPT - modify behavior within and responses to the surrounding environment

3 - MIGRATE - move to a more suitable environment

Very often we folks who struggle with panic attacks and/or anxiety persist in trying to live in an unlivable environment. We try to fit too much into a day. We try to be a perfect employee or a perfect son/daughter. We take responsibility for things that we can't hope to control. We stay in jobs, relationships, schools, etc. that take more energy and emotion that we have to give.

I agree with Ms. Beretsky, we folks with panic attacks and anxiety can only survive and thrive if we leave/change those unsupportive environments by hibernating, adapting, or migrating.  Ms. Beretsky, who struggled with panic attacks, talks about how migrating away from a toxic work environment helped her thrive again. As with many panic attack sufferers, I hibernated at first, cutting off the world around me, slowly shrinking my comfort zone until I was afraid to get out of bed. That didn't work. Eventually, I had to migrate away from a toxic job that wasn't for me and I had to adapt... a lot... by modifying my expectations of myself and the world around me and by evolving how I internalized and reacted to my environment. It wasn't easy, and at times I needed help from a coach.

There is no one correct response, but everyone with anxiety and/or panic attacks can learn from the animal world and hibernate, adapt, or migrate their way into a healthier, more sustainable environment.