Feeling anxious? Stressed? Do you suffer from panic attacks? Or do you occasionally just feel on edge? You are not alone. Here’s a tip that can help.
The basis of this technique is something we do everyday with out even realising we have to. Its vital for our survival, its even one of the principals of Yoga…they discovered thousands of years ago how important it was. Guessed yet? It’s breathing…
So many of us underestimate the importance of breathing properly, I know I have in past, have you?
We all know how to breath, we do it everyday without thinking about it. But many of us underestimate the importance of it, which may sound a bit odd because we all know that we need oxygen to survive. But how important is it?
Why is Oxygen important?
We all know oxygen is important, but I imagine a lot of of us don’t realise how important. Oxygen is the most vital component in our bodies. Breathing is the only way of getting oxygen to our brain and our other vital organs and oxygen is essential for them to work properly and efficiently. Most of our energy requirements comes from the air we breath, rather than the food we eat. Oxygen purifies the blood stream which has major health benefits for our bodies, especially our minds and oxygen also helps rejuvenate our skin.
Am I Breathing Correctly?
But we can restrict our breathing through developing bad habits and not realising it, which reduces the amount of oxygen the body takes in. For example, slouching can reduce our breathing to shorter breaths due to the decrease in lung capacity. We can also develop habits to of forgetting to breath, I know I use to do this. Our muscles can become tense the more we concentrate on something, this leads to the muscles in the arms, neck and chest to contract which in turn makes the breath become shorter and shorter, leading to less oxygen being taken into the body. This can lead to our bodies becoming fatigued due to the decreased availability of oxygen in the blood.
Breath Like an Elephant
Our breathing, on a daily basis, can be too shallow and too quick and when this occurs we don’t take in enough oxygen, or expel enough carbon dioxide which can lead to a build up of toxins in the body. When we don’t take in enough oxygen, oxygen starvation can occur and this can lead to a decreased immune system and premature ageing.
An editorial in the Journal of the Royal Society of Medicine commented on the affects of shallow breathing, it suggested shallow breathing can cause:
- sleep disorders
- stomach upsets
- heart bum
- muscle cramps
- visual problems
- chest pain
- heart palpitations
Animals which breath slowly tend to live the longest……like an elephant.
Anxiety and Breathing
The connection between breathing (respiratory system) and our mental state has been known for a long time. Everyone is different, so we all have a different threshold of what makes us anxious or stressed but we are same when it comes to breathing and our mental state.
When you feel anxious, stressed or on edge, your body is physically reacting too and you tend to take short, quick, shallow breaths. This alone can make you feel anxious or stressed.
One way of we can help our bodies get the oxygen it needs and in turn calm you down if you are feeling a bit anxious or on edge, is a simple breathing exercise called 7/11.
The basis of the exercise is you breath in for a count of 7 and then out for 11. When you breath in for 7, breath in through you nose if you can. Our noses have many defence mechanisms which prevent any dust or other foreign particles getting into our lungs which could damage them, and it warms the air, so preventing any excessively cold air entering our body. Breathing through our noses also has many health benefits and research suggests it’s the most optimal way for us to breath.
When you breath in for 7, the counting is quite fast and it is roughly two counts per second. So you are counting in your head for 7 when you breath in, and then count for 11 at the same speed when you breath out. You may find you can control the breath more easily if you breath out through the nose, some people find when you breath out through the mouth the breath expels too quickly. The secret is to make the breath out, longer than the breath in. You may want to change the counting at first and work up to the count of 7/11. Experiment and do what works for you.
How Does it Help?
This technique stimulates the body’s natural relaxation mechanism. So it’s great if you feel anxious, stressed or suffer from panic attacks. You can do this technique any where and no one will notice what you are doing because it’s so discreet. But don’t do this technique if you are driving or operating heavy machinery (or anything of a similar nature) because it can make you feel drowsy.
If you have trouble sleeping; try it whilst lying in bed before you go to sleep, if you suffer from panic attacks; try it if you feel yourself leading up to one. If you feel anxious or agitated; just take a few minutes out to focus on your breathing and counting, it doesn’t have to be long, a minute or two or longer if needs be.
I often teach my clients this technique and I regularly hear how much of a benefit it is to them. Not only as a technique to counteract a panic attack or a moment of anxiousness, but in helping them feel less anxious and stressed in general too by doing the technique 2 or 3 times a day.
Give it a go…
I sometimes find the simplest techniques can have the most affect. I’ve been amazed by how this simple technique has made such a difference to people’s live’s including my own.
I use this technique when I feel myself getting ‘wound up’, it’s normally because there aren’t enough hours in the day. This technique relaxes me and in doing so makes me so much more productive.
This technique not only helps you breath properly and gives your body the oxygen it needs (which has numerous health benefits in itself). It uses the body’s own natural relaxation response.
So give it go, see how you get on. If you do try it please put your thoughts in the comment box below or if you currently use the 7/11 technique, feel free to add how it’s helped you.
Sometimes we need more than just a tip if anxiety, stress or panic attacks is affecting your everyday life. Using Cognitive Hypnotherapy I can help you find the reasons for you anxiety, stress or panic and we can work together to resolve them. I’m always happy to discuss how I can help you so do feel free to contact me.