#16 How to Reduce Anxiety : Two easy steps to help you to Breathe Mindfully.
If you fail to breathe, you'll die- simple.
Equally, breathing incorrectly can reduce your life span and wellbeing. It's something you just don't think about. Yet, breathing is a necessity of life that usually occurs automatically.
With each breath, blood cells receive oxygen and release carbon dioxide. Carbon dioxide is a waste product that's carried back through your body and exhaled, purifying you.
Breathing does more than keep you alive. Improper breathing can upset the oxygen and carbon dioxide exchange and contribute to anxiety, panic attacks, fatigue, and other physical and emotional disturbances.
When people are anxious, they tend to take rapid, shallow breaths directly from the chest.
When I am anxious or nervous, I tend to 'hold' my breathe. I don't know why I just do. Or I often breathe shallowly. I was feeling often getting tired and dropping off to sleep in the day. Even when I had a great night, sleep dropping off in the day persisted. I knew I had to do something about it, so I decided to be mindful of the situation. I noticed my breathing through the day. It's didn't take long for me to realise that I was breathe holding during times of stress or shallow breathing. I also noticed that After these episodes of withholding my breath, I would suddenly feel acutely tired. It was then I realised what was actually going on.
I was doing this to myself! Therefore, I began to create the well- habit of noticing my breathing and then deliberately breathed deeply. Since then, I rarely feel drowsy in the day. When I catch myself holding my breath or shallow breathing, I stop- and take several deep breaths and continue to breathe with 'all' of my lung capacity. To remind me to deep breathe, I have stickers in my planner and elsewhere that says in bold letters JUSTBreathe!
Shallow breathing is called thoracic or chest breathing, which causes a disconnect in the body's oxygen and carbon dioxide levels, resulting in increased heart rate, dizziness, muscle tension, and other physical sensations. These symptoms occur because your blood is not being properly oxygenated.
The goal is to create the habit of diaphragmatic or deep breathing. Deep breathing stimulates the part of your nervous system responsible for regulating heartbeat, blood flow, breathing, and digestion. When you feel stressed, particularly acutely, deep breathing helps you avoid the "fight-or-flight" response. Instead, it will make you feel calm, ready to handle anything.
When I trained as a nurse, I leant that the easiest way to determine your breathing pattern is to put one hand on your upper abdomen near the waist and the other in the middle of your chest. Then, as you breathe, notice which hand raises the most.
If you're breathing correctly, your abdomen should expand and contract with each breath, and the hand on it should raise the most.
If you can stop and pause, it's imperative to be aware of these differences during stressful times.
Here is a short exercise that will help you with mindful breathing….
Mindfulness meditation involves focusing on your breathing while bringing your attention to the present. Do not allow your mind to drift off to the past or future – Just be- be in the now.
Choose a calming focus, which may include a sound, positive word "peace" for example, or phrase "Just breathe" to repeat silently as you inhale or exhale. You may want to focus on an object like a lit candle to help you focus in the now.
Let go and relax. When you notice your mind has drifted, take a deep breath and gently return your attention to the present. Enjoy the feeling of the air passing in and out of your lungs. Notice how it feels in your nasal passages. Notice how alert your mind feels.
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