Anxiety can have a great impact on your daily life.
There are many different treatments available; these can range from psychological therapy and medication to going on a self-help course, exercising regularly, quitting smoking and cutting down on alcohol and caffeine. But there is one simple process that you already do that can help you to quickly and easily calm anxiety.
Are you fed up with being uptight and anxious?
Do you find pain too much to bear? Does sleep evade you? Would you like a clearer mind? Do you want to control your anger? Ever experience breathlessness?
If so, then there’s a very good chance you have forgotten how to breathe efficiently. It is something we do without even thinking, it’s an unconscious habit. It’s interesting to find that when you think about breathing …. for a moment or two …. it becomes more difficult……
OK come back to me now!
Breathing is simple and yet powerful
We take it for granted though. Not only does it keep you alive, it regulates the balance between oxygen and carbon dioxide in your body.
It’s the relationship between the two gases that can create physical and emotional symptoms. Too much oxygen and you will feel on edge, jumpy and agitated. While too much carbon dioxide can make you feel sluggish, sleepy and tired.
Carbon dioxide has always had a bad reputation for doing us harm. However, that is not the case as one of its key roles is of being one of your “natural tranquilisers”.
Rapid breathing from your upper chest gets rid of too much carbon dioxide. This causes you to feel agitated, breathless and causes your nervous system to go into fight or flight, survival mode.
Is it any wonder that you end up feeling anxious, tired and irritable? You’re all juiced up.
So what’s the answer, and how does it help?
Take a long deep breath
Diaphragmatic breathing is also known as deep breathing or abdominal breathing. It re-balances the autonomic nervous system, reducing heart rate and breathing rate. It re-balances the relationship between oxygen and carbon dioxide. This, in turn, changes the autonomic nervous system changes from sympathetic (fight or flight) to parasympathetic (calm and relaxed). There is also less tension and tightness in the neck and shoulders as your muscles can soften and release.
Get comfortable in a sitting upright position looking straight ahead or laying down flat. You can close your eyes to help you concentrate on the process.
Put one hand on your chest and the other hand on your tummy below your belly button.
How do you breathe diaphragmatically?
The idea is that your breathing should come from your diaphragm. This means that as your body rises and falls as you breathe your hand on your tummy should move before the hand on your chest.
Breathe out gently and effortlessly to the count of 6. Now wait for a second or two until you spontaneously begin to breathe in – this will occur naturally.
Allow the air to naturally flow in again until it stops, again of its own accord around the count of 6. Make no effort to deepen the inhalation.
Just allow your body to find its own natural rate of breathing and permit yourself to relax into a rhythm. Allowing your breathing to slow down and become shallower as you relax more and more.
Continue doing this for about 5 to 10 minutes.
Discover that changing how you breathe changes your feelings
Emotional stress and breathing are closely linked together, the mind body connection. This way of breathing creates relaxation and establishes emotional equilibrium giving you a clear mind and energy for your daily living. As you gain control over your breathing you will also gain control over your emotions.
Be gentle with yourself, practice makes perfect. Give yourself time to get used to this way of breathing. Whilst breathing seems easy, changing how you breathe is a bit more difficult. To create a new habit for the unconscious to learn takes a little time. I recommend that you practice this technique every day for a minimum of 10 minutes.
Do you suffer from insomnia? Do you wake in the night and find it hard to go back to sleep? If you use this relaxation technique before going to sleep – you may be surprised at just how easily you will fall asleep.
Are you in pain? You can reduce pain by using this technique. By focusing on your breath you full oxygenate your body, you relax and release your natural tranquiliser. More on pain management in a later blog.
If you have something that you have been putting off? Abdominal breathing can work a treat. Give yourself 10 minutes of abdominal breathing, allow everything to re-balance. Once you’re relaxed, don’t think too much but take action – just do it!
Want to control your anger? Then practice this breathing exercise. Once you have installed the new habit you’ll be surprised at much more calm you are. You can also use this technique when things get a bit heated. Take yourself out of the situation and focus on your breath for a few moments.
After my heart attack I experienced bouts of breathlessness. I used this technique to help calm my body and my mind.
If you experience anxiety using breath work helps you take a moment to stop, be in the now and release the feelings of going crazy, remember there is always hope.