What could be easier than breathing? We do it all the time, and yet not all breaths are created equal.
Deep breathing can be a great tool to use when you’re in a state of anxiety, high stress or are dealing with a panic attack. The simple action of taking deep breaths is soothing and calming on body and mind.
If you want to use your breath to calm yourself, all you need to do is to stimulate the right part of the body’s nervous system. The parasympathetic nervous system controls our rest, relax and digest response. When it is activated, the body is in a state of calm, with dilated blood vessels and lower blood pressure, a slow heart rate and calm breathing.
How to get there? Your outbreath needs to be slightly longer than your inbreath. This stimulates the vagus nerve, which runs from the diaphragm all the way to the brain.
There are many different breathing exercises you can try to put your body into a parasympathetic state, but the simplest is this one:
Find a comfortable place where you can sit quietly in a relaxed pose but with your spine upright. Close your eyes and begin breathing normally through your nose.
Next, take a deep, slow breath in through your nose counting to two, hold for one count, and exhale counting to four, then hold again for one count. Make sure you breathe smoothly and evenly.
If this feels too easy, you could try inhaling for 4 counts and exhaling for 6, or even 6 inhales and 8 exhales, just so long as it still feels comfortable.
On the outbreath, try experimenting with breathing our through your nose, through pursed lips or through your mouth to see what feels best for you.
Do this breathing exercise for a minimum of 5 minutes and notice a real difference in your state of mind.
If you find breathing exercises helpful to combat stress and anxiety in your life, you may wish to try these 3 video guided exercises:
When you suffer from anxiety, you want to feel better as soon as possible.
These days many people seek cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) as their treatment of choice for anxiety issues. This is because evidence-based research demonstrates that CBT for anxiety can be a highly effective treatment and GPs often recommend it.
How long will it take? This is a question many people ask when seeking treatment. (more…)
The strong feelings of fear, unease and worry that are hallmarks of anxiety can have a very negative impact on your life. Making the decision to get help for anxiety is a positive step. At the same time, it merits the question: what treatment should you choose?
Two of the most popular treatments for anxiety are Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) and certain types of medication. This is due to the fact that both methods demonstrate good evidence in the successful treatment of anxiety.
However, is CBT more effective than medication in treating anxiety? How can you choose between the two, and when should you use both? (more…)
When you’re feeling worried or stressed, would you say your thoughts are mostly positive or negative? If you’re like most people, negative thoughts run rampant and you might feel that you have trouble controlling them.
Some people who suffer from anxiety or depression say they wish they could “shut off” their thoughts. Often, it is actually these thoughts rather than the specific incident or situation that is causing the anxiety or depression in the first place. (more…)
Once the feelings of panic start to set in, these thoughts have a way of taking over and can give rise to intense fear and pain. When a panic attack strikes, sufferers are often too overwhelmed by the panic to feel able to think about ways to manage the situation.
If you are armed with some coping strategies before a panic attack strikes, it can be possible to reduce the intensity and even prevent panic from happening at all.
Here are ten useful tips for dealing with panic. Read this list and keep it handy so you can be prepared the next time you feel panicked. (more…)
Anxiety disorders can seriously affect your quality of life. If you worry nonstop, have obsessive thoughts or panic attacks, or suffer from a debilitating phobia, you might be one of the many people who suffer from an anxiety disorder.
Although this diagnosis might sound worrying, it can be helpful to identify the problem so that you can then take the necessary steps to start enjoying your life again.
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