“Smile, breathe, and go slowly.” -Thich Nhat Hanh
Anxiety has been on the rise for years and may be at an all-time high right now, with so much uncertainly in the world. Anxiety refers to a combination of worried thoughts and physical changes such as increased heart rate, upset stomach, shaking, tension, or insomnia. People with anxiety disorders often experience intense fears coupled with profound physical symptoms—so much so that it interferes with their daily lives. There are several different types of anxiety disorders: Panic Disorders, Social Anxiety, Specific Phobia Disorders, Obsessive Compulsive Disorders, and Generalized Anxiety Disorders (healthline, 2019).
36.4% to 41.5% of adults are experiencing anxiety or depressive disorder symptoms. Nonetheless, you don’t need to have a diagnosed disorder to experience bouts of anxiety that affect your experience in uncomfortable ways. We know that stress, such as that caused by anxiety, can affect our energy and our overall health. Continuing our series of DIY Healing guides, this blog offers strategies you can apply to calm your anxiety and feel better.
There are many proven techniques for dealing with anxiety. This is good news. It can get better. The overall solution is to reroute your unserving thought patterns. The first step is developing mindful awareness of these thoughts. Become a neutral observer. Notice how certain events act as triggers. Observe them closely so you can build an understanding of the cycle and then gradually edit your own reaction. Reassure yourself that you will be okay.
Anxiety-related patterns and behaviors can develop over years, and so it can take patience to adjust your reaction. In time, good habits will replace bad ones. To feel better right now, you’ll need a technique that provides more immediate results. One strategy we’ve discussed before is grounding. Another quick solution is called focused breathwork. Controlling the breath is effective at reducing anxiety because often when we are stressed, we tend to hold our breaths. This, in turn, makes us feel more uncomfortable. Reminding ourselves to breathe can be quite effective in releasing that tension.
There are many different breathwork patterns, but here is a simple one that I like. Get yourself comfortable, either seated or lying down. Next, place the tip of your tongue against your upper front teeth. Now exhale out, emptying your lungs. Breathe in silently for a count of five. Hold the breath in for five seconds. Finally, release the breath a bit forcefully for another five seconds. During this last breath, allow your lips to purse, creating a soft audible sound as the breath escapes. Repeat this cycle a few times, or until you feel more relaxed.
To enhance the calming effects of your breathwork, you might add some relaxing music to your session. For example, this Breath Retention audio is designed to lower your heart rate and reduce your anxiety.
For additional, personalized guidance consider scheduling a “What’s Up?” Meditation session with Rose, available by phone.
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What To Remember:Anxiety is the experience of worried thoughts paired with physical symptoms such as increased heart rate, tension, or insomnia.The long-term solution is to rewire unserving pathways and thought patterns.For immediate relief, practice anxiety-calming breath work and grounding exercises.