Sometimes for a successful day you “only” need to BREATHE
An increasing number of people, both young and old, struggle with anxiety and general stress – which is responsible for initiating numerous diseases. Apart from various methods in fighting stress, in some situations we happen to be the fastest first aid for ourselves. When you suffer a panic attack in the middle of a shop, what should you do? You have lungs? BREATHE!
Breathing exercises are an excellent, quick and simple way of releasing a large dose of stress and relieving anxiety. Fortunately, proper breathing has a very positive influence at the psychological level and automatically brings relief – no matter whether you feel chest tightness, your heart is pounding or you are nervous (…). The only instruction is to breathe slowly and focus entirely ONLY on inhaling and exhaling.
When exhaling you can imagine that you are “putting out” of yourself all bodily tension you feel. You can even say it silently (“I am exhaling restlessness/inhaling peace”) if it helps you to maintain focus and interrupt the flow of disturbing thoughts. Try to exhale slowly, steadily and in a relaxed manner. Exhale while the last drop of breath is “squeezed” out of you. While breathing slowly you may focus on your whole body in order to locate where it is exactly that you feel tense.
People often think that they must use deep breathing exercises for releasing anxiety and that slow breathing exercises are easier. That is not true. Slow breathing is one of the best techniques against panic attacks because it helps to slow down the heart and naturally calms the body. Moreover, you may try other techniques. A very simple one is as follows: close one nostril by pressing it with your fingers and then exhale through the other nostril. After each breath in and out alternate the side, i.e. the nostril.
The most frequent and simple breathing exercise is “4-4-4-4”: inhaling lasts 4 seconds, then you stop breathing for another 4 seconds before exhaling; exhaling lasts 4 seconds and, before you inhale again, wait for 4 seconds. Repeat this 10-15 times and you will see the beneficial effects. This technique helps some people to fall asleep more easily or to stop hiccoughs. In any case, with proper breathing and some exercises we can only help ourselves and do no harm.
Other methods helping to relieve stress and leading to relaxation are: guided relaxation, medication and yoga. Physical activity also regulates breathing in a natural manner and it is the second option in case breathing exercises do not suit you.
If you are person that likes seeing the result of your own efforts, you may download a Smartphone application for monitoring your heartbeats. Such applications function by pressing your finger on the mobile phone camera where the application will measure your pulse. When you breathe slowly, your heart functions normally and the pulse is lower – you will notice that stress and anxiety are instantly reduced. A good application for measuring the pulse is “Instant Heart Rate”, which you may download free of charge both for iPhones and Androids.