Now this may seem like an obvious one. We all know that we have to breathe to stay alive. However, what many of us don’t realise is how important this breath is in our everyday living and our feeling of well-being.
Shallow breathing is often the reason for our anxiety. It causes us to feel light-headed, have tingles through our body and generally feel keyed up and tense. Oxygen is not getting around the body as it should.
Many schools of thinking including meditation and yoga, all focus on the breath. It is indeed our life force and is absolutely key to feeling calm and well.
Take a minute to notice your breathing. Are you taking short, shallow breaths? If so, you are not getting enough oxygen into your blood, and this will result in a number of physical manifestations that make anxiety and stress much worse. The breathing needs to be deeper and regulated, rather than shallow and stressed.
When my anxiety and depression were at their worst, one of the first things my mum did to try to help me relax, was to listen to a calming visualisation cd. The focus was not just on calming the body through visualising calm, but also to calm and regulate the breathing so that the body would relax. I can attest that it was not effective at first. I was so anxious and tense, I felt only frustrated that I could not calm my body and mind. But by continuing the practice, over time, I noticed the benefits.
Today, even when the panic strikes, I am aware of my breathing. I will notice that I am taking short, shallow breaths. I now recognise that this has to be addressed so I use a method that I read about called 4-7-8 breathing.
There has been so much scientific study into the effects of applied breathing techniques and as yet I have not found one that is more effective than the 4-7-8. It can be used to ease you into a restful sleep, calm your nerves before a big event or speech, or to stop a panic attack in its tracks. Here’s what you do:
- Inhale through the nose for the count of 4
- Hold the breath for the count of 7
- Release the breath and breathe out for the count of 8
- Repeat until calm comes over the body and mind.
Now there is definitely science to this. You could ask yourself why hold for 7 and out for 8? All I can say is, whatever the scientific reason, it works. It slows the heart rate down, it brings calm and focus to your breathing and within a few minutes there is a strong sense of peace and well-being.
If nothing else, take away the importance of breathing correctly. If you are extremely anxious and tense, then understand it wont be easy at first. It will take patience and time. But it is so worth it. It is the first step to calm and peace. Please let me know how you get on with the technique. Huge hugs K xx