Tip 1: Easy breathing to reduce anxiety
I felt to start with something useful. ♥
One very effective way I’ve found to reduce adrenalin, and calm your nervous system when it’s over-reacting, is to simply breathe into your belly. If you practice when you’re calm it will be more instantly effective when you most need it:
This means that when you breathe in, you imagine the breath travelling down through your diaphragm, which is just under your ribs, down into your abdomen. To help this process, gently allow your belly to push out as you inhale, imagining you’re filling it with air. On the out breath, you simply relax your abdomen and allow it to go back to normal. Your intention is to pull your breath deep down below your ribs, at a rate that is slower than usual, and comfortable for you. As you practice, this will gradually become slower, calmer and deeper.
Now, the reason this works so well, is that you are taking the emphasis off breathing up high in your chest, where the body goes into an automatic fight-or-flight reaction, to produce more adrenalin and cortisol. This breathing becomes more rapid as our stress reaction increases, and can lead to hyperventilation and panic attacks. It’s the way our lower brain takes us to the point of reacting faster to a perceived danger. This is great if you have to run for your life, or physically fight to survive, where you want your heart pumping fast, and all your energy being diverted to your muscles, to respond to physical threat. But this comes from an out-of-time function, that forces us to react when it doesn’t honour us – when we most want to be calm and in control. But our energy leaves our conscious mind, suddenly scrambling to concentrate and unable to think what to do to counter our body’s “betrayal”. Instead, the adrenalin has us wanting to run away, or dig a hole and bury ourselves, to escape from feeling so compromised!
Well firstly, teach yourself to take three of these deep breaths, telling yourself something relevant, like “I am calm, safe, and detached”. With time, you’ll easily develop the habit of breathing this way all the time, which in itself, becomes preventative. That is because we automatically breathe into our abdomens as babies. But as we experience fearful situations, and are taught to worry about fitting in and performing, our breath permanently migrates to the upper chest, in constant reaction mode.
Consider that this deep abdominal breathing is how martial artists, yogis, and masters have taught themselves to breathe – to stay calm and in control in the midst of threat or chaos. This energy centre, three finger-breadths below the navel, is known as the Dantian– the power centre – of the Sacral Chakra. These masters also build their life force by accumulating energy into their bodies, through similar breathing techniques. This is also known as Qi Kung, where I was fortunate to study and practise for years with a Sifu Qi Kung Master, so we can start to explore this in another tip to come, as Qi Kung is a very powerful and useful discipline.
And secondly, practice positive affirmations each day, aimed at reassuring yourself that all will be well, with a gradual detachment from worrying about what others think of you. This externalised view of your value will always give others power over you, to govern who and what you should be, just for their approval and inclusion.
Of course, there are exceptions to this detachment, where your environment might be legitimately dangerous, and it is not safe for you to appear to rebel. That is a topic for another serious discussion we can have. But this breathing will also help you get through those situations as well.
Practice by lying down with a small pillow, or stuffed toy, placed on your belly, and watch it rise and fall in response to each breath. You will find that, as you just concentrate on each breath, your mind becomes calmer and stops its scattered thoughts, and your muscles can all gradually relax as well. Children will also respond very well to this technique. Enjoy this easy, very effective process, as a step towards taking back control within yourself. ♥