We all battle anxiety time to time. Some more than others, & some feel chronically anxious. Ever been speaking with a group of people, or in front of a group of people, & had to step away because your throat was closing up & your heart was racing? The most disturbing aspect of anxiety, in my opinion, is the loss of control. Sensations & physiological reactions are occurring in an alarming, scary manner that is completely out of your control. Most people think of anxiety as an abstract, mental phenomenon. Actually, it is your physiology that is inappropriately reacting to your thoughts &/or habits. Is there anything you can do besides pop your favorite benzo? Absolutely! Here are just two things you can do to resolve your anxiety & prevent panic attacks.
Disclaimer: This is not an instant or quick fix. This isn’t a pill. This takes practice. You practice these two things everyday, even when you’re not anxious. Be mindful of these two things & watch your anxiety melt away. But, if you are not consistently practicing, don’t expect to these tips to stop your rising panic attack in the moment…
Relax your gut. Most of us have very tight bellies. Check right now. Completely let your belly go, allowing your gut to comfortably protrude. If you’re anything like I was, this will feel unnatural. You may instinctively re-tense your belly. There are a plethora of reasons why many of us today have tight bellies. I would suspect the most common reasons have to do with diet & body image. Certain foods inflame our gut & cause bloating. This bloating can become chronic & you may subconsciously become accustomed to tensing your belly to avoid looking like your pregnant (lol). I used to do this! It’s not necessarily a conscious act, but subconsciously, if you are not eating properly & constantly bloated you may be chronically tensing your belly to hide that bloating. So, you must practice relaxing your belly & erase the habit of tensing it up. When our belly is tense, it restricts our main respiratory muscle, the diaphragm, from fully functioning. This leads to shallow breathing since your diaphragm is not fully working to allow a full, deep breath. When the breath is shallow, we trick our nervous system into a fight or flight state, thus causing anxiety for no apparent reason. Breathing fully & deeply into your belly has been shown to activate the vagus nerve which has been shown to stimulate our parasympathetic nervous system which facilitates resting & digesting; in this state your body is relaxed & free of anxiety.
Breathe. Once you have begun to loosen your belly, you can practice deep breathing. Breathing deeply & fully not only facilitates a calm physiological/psychological state, but also nourishes your body with abundant oxygen. With more oxygen in your body, you will become less acidic. Less acidity means less inflammation. Less inflammation means less disease & more health. Try this breathing exercise every morning & evening: Place your fingers on each side of your belly at belly button level. Slowly breathe into your fingers for a count of 4 (1 Mississippi, 2 Mississippi…). Hold the breathe for a count of 3. Exhale for a count of 4. Repeat this 10-20x. Or, keep going! The longer you do this, the better. But, I would recommend starting off little by little so you can form the habit, then begin to gradually increase the time you spend doing this. You can do this anytime & anywhere. Constantly check in with your breath throughout your day. Notice how your emotional state or mood affects your breathing. Take a breathing break at work or school. The more, the better.
When you do experience anxiety, take notice of how your breathing & your gut. You will almost always notice that your belly is tight & your breathing is shallow. With a relaxed belly & fully functioning respiratory system, chronic anxiety will be a thing of the past. Give yourself time. You did not form these bad motor habits overnight, nor will they go away over night. Take it slow & do not give up. I promise this helps, a lot. Love y’all, feel free to contact me.