Don’t Forget to Breathe!
"If you want to conquer the anxiety of life, live in the moment, live in the breath" - A. Ray
Have you ever reflected on the number of breaths you take in a minute? Do you remember how you felt the last time you took a deep breath? How often do you take the time to make sure you are breathing properly?
Anxious! In the last couple of conferences I attended, there seemed to be a big focus on the importance of breathing. Apparently most of us are not focusing enough on breathing and this is causing us undue stress and anxiety. The benefits of breathing are many and yet we do not seem to give it the time it deserves.
Inhale! Close your eyes and smell all the flower scents you can think of. Beyond providing you with the oxygen you need to survive and with many health benefits, slow calculated breathing acts as a de-stressor and increases your focus. Scientists are saying that breathing is a great technique to get rid of anxiety. Yoga instructors cannot stop talking about the many paybacks you get, such as an increase in your ability to control your life, simply by taking the time to focus on your inhales and exhales.
Exhale! Imagine you are a hundred years old and are trying to blow all the hundred candles. Most people are typically exhaling without properly inhaling. They are too busy running their daily errands that they do not inhale like they should. Inhaling should be a focused mechanism that involves taking a deep breath in – yes, until your stomach is full with air. You need to follow this up by a full exhale to the point where you feel your diaphragm is hitting your rib cage. Check out Dr. Singh’s article if you would like to learn more (Evidence-Based Role of Hypercapnia and Exhalation Phase in Vagus Nerve Stimulation: Insights into Hypercapnic Yoga Breathing Exercises).
Breathe! The most basic breathing technique that I recommend for my clients to get rid of anxiety has been nicely labeled by John Assaraf (Read his book if you would like to learn more - Innercise: The New Science to Unlock Your Brain's Hidden Power) as “Take 6: Calm the Circuits”. Are you ready for this? It entails inhaling through your nose for 4 to 6 counts and exhaling through your mouth with the same number of counts. Remember to exhale until your diaphragm hits your ribcage. Repeat 6 to 10 times.
Reflect! Next, I suggest that you take the time to reflect on what is causing the anxiety. As an example, if you are stressed or anxious right before an interview. I recommend you complete your “Take 6” breathing exercises and aim to focus on the positives of the situation by repeating a sentence or two that boost your confidence. For one client it was, “I have an interview, I know what I am here for, I have prepared and I am going to ace this interview”. Complete this exercise with a repetition of the breathing technique; breathe in for 4 to 6 counts and breath out for four to six counts.
How will you ensure that you are taking the appropriate amount of breaths every day to stay calm and focused? Try it out and let me know how it goes. And yes, please feel free to share your own techniques.
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