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Breathing Techniques That Blow Worries Away · PMPTherapy

Breathing Techniques That Blow Worries Away

After a long day you are lying in bed, ready for that long-awaited and highly needed rest. Then the thoughts flood in. What if my boss does not like my contribution, should I have spoken up, where did I put my wallet, did I study enough for that test, what should I buy for my best friend’s birthday ...

There are an endless number of "what if's" and "should have's" that crowd our minds, all with one goal in mind – to keep you awake and stressed.

Half the worry in the world is caused by people trying to make decisions before they have sufficient knowledge on which to base a decision

Private Matters Psychotherapy
Herbert Hawkes, Dean of Columbia University

So what now? Tossing and turning does not help, getting up and watching TV will only make you more awake, and you are in no mood to meditate.

As the Dean of Columbia University, Herbert Hawkes said: “Half the worry in the world is caused by people trying to make decisions before they have sufficient knowledge on which to base a decision”.

In other words, worrying is trying to predict possible future scenarios. And unless you are a fortune-teller, people cannot predict what is going to happen.

Worry Is The Result Of Unresolved Stress

When I talk to my clients about breathing techniques, they usually answer me with a look of disbelief. What most people fail to see is that worry is not only a never-ending string of thoughts, it also has a physiological component.

With excessive worry, your mind and body may go into overdrive and this may lead to anxiety and panic attacks. Worry is a result of unresolved stress and makes your body react in the same way as it would to physical danger, a phenomenon known as the "fight or flight response".

In other words, your body is preparing itself for physical action resulting in tensing of the muscles, increased heart rate and shallow breathing. When this tension is not released, it may result in headaches, back pain, digestive system problems, constipation, and high blood pressure.

A prolonged level of stress even weakens your immune system resulting in all kinds of illnesses and diseases.

Breathing Helps To Release Endorphins

Enough about the side effects of worry, how about the breathing techniques? Remember that worry, like stress, triggers physiological reactions in the body. Regulating our breath stimulates the autonomic nervous system, which in turn influences many biochemical reactions in the body.

One way mindful breathing helps to lower your stress level is by releasing endorphins, the pleasure-producing hormones, and lowering anxiety-provoking brain chemicals such as adrenaline, the stress hormone. Stated simply, by controlling the way you breathe, you will feel more calm and relaxed.

The truth is that breathing techniques can help anyone control their worrying and feelings of anxiety. Give these techniques a chance. Try it for a week and practice them twice a day.

By doing one of these techniques when you are not worrying, you will transform the technique into a skill which you will have available when you do worry. They will not take up that much time, so the excuse "I don’t have time" does not work.

Three Breathing Techniques

Balloon Belly Breathing

Try this technique first as it will teach you how to breathe properly. Trying to use breathing exercises for relaxation purposes without the proper posture and breathing skill will not be as effective.

  • Sit or lie down in a comfortable position. When sitting, relax your shoulders and arms and place your hands on your belly.
  • Drop your shoulders, straighten your back, and relax your jaw.
  • Start by slowly inhaling. Imagine that there is a balloon in your belly and that you are going to fill it up with air. Keep inhaling until you imagine that the balloon is full.
  • As you breathe in, make sure you keep your chest still and only expand your belly.
  • Exhale by imagining you deflate the balloon. Let your breath out slowly.

Repeat this four or five times as you will feel an almost immediate relaxation response.

The Measured Breath

  • Sit or lie down in a comfortable position. When sitting, relax your shoulders and arms and place your hands on your knees.
  • Drop your shoulders, straighten your back, and relax your jaw.
  • Now breathe in slowly through your nose and count to four.
  • Keep your shoulders down and allow your stomach to expand as you breathe in. Try to breathe through your stomach, not by pulling your shoulders up to your ears.
  • Hold the breath for two seconds.
  • Now release your breath slowly and smoothly as you count to seven.

Repeat for a couple of minutes until you feel the tension fade.

Alternate Nostril Breathing

  • Sit or lie down in a comfortable position. When sitting, relax your shoulders and arms and place your hands on your knees.
  • Drop your shoulders, straighten your back, and relax your jaw.
  • Push one nostril closed with your finger.
  • Take one long breath in through the open nostril and count to four.
  • Now let go off this nostril and push the other one closed with one finger.
  • Now slowly breathe out as you count to four.
  • Try to breathe out for as long as possible and repeat until you feel the tension fade away.

Hi! Marleen here. Would you like a personalised program of therapy that centres on you and your experience? Book a free 20 minute consultation with me to find out how we can help you successfully cope with stress and anxiety, and start to enjoy a brand new life.

Burlington mental healthBook A Free Consultation
Marleen Filimon is the founder and CEO of Private Matters Psychotherapy
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