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Managing Anxiety Through Breathing Tools



Do you suffer with excessive worrying, fatigue, increased heart rate and palpitations? If so, you may be experiencing anxiety.


When we live with Fibromyalgia, anxiety can be a debilitating symptom that makes an already increasing condition worse!

Living in a state of anxiety can seriously impact health, as the nervous system goes into fight, flight, freeze mode and this releases stress hormones into the bloodstream, sending messages to the brain that the body is in danger.

In addition, the emotional processing centre, (the amygdala) is impacted by this increased state of anxiety, sending distress signals to the hypothalamus, (the area that functions like a command centre) communicating with the rest of the body through the nervous system so that the person has the energy to fight or flee.

According to Harvard Health the amygdala communicates with the rest of the body through the nervous system, which controls such involuntary body functions as breathing, blood pressure, heartbeat, and the dilation or constriction of key blood vessels. This impacts all the signals in the body causing it to struggle when regulating itself.

As a result of this, we can understand why the involuntary functions are screaming DANGER?!

Alarmingly, when these triggers frequently occur, they are impacting the health of our…

Brain

Gut

Neurology

Nerves

Bones, joints,

Hormonal health

Muscles

Blood

Organs

And so much more…

No wonder we feel like we are dying most of the time if all our systems are dysregulated and out of balance. The stress hormones are confusing our involuntary functions!

In my opinion, the most shocking part of anxiety is that many of us don’t even know we are suffering, until the symptoms have wreaked havoc on our lives.

With that in mind, I would like to draw attention to how we might identify anxiety in our own lives.

How do we know if we are even suffering with anxiety?

As humans we spend 95% of our lives running on auto pilot, which means that most of our time is spend preoccupied with distractions and creating a to do list so long that we convince ourselves that we just don’t have time for anything else.

In reality, when we look at how much time we waste procrastinating or doing things that are not for our highest good, we realise that taking 10 minutes a day to reduce anxiety, is really not that difficult to attain but so beneficial to our overall wellbeing.

Think of it like filling a car with petrol. We wouldn’t keep driving with a tank on empty, so why do we keep pushing our bodies without creating a strong foundation for dealing with stress?

It’s also common for us to make comparisons that invalidate our experiences of anxiety, trauma, and pain. This reduces our capacity for awareness around anxiety and prevents us from getting help.

Such comments as…

1- I’m over worked that’s why my heart is racing.

2- I’ve had a stressful childhood that’s why I worry a lot.

3- My partner and I are not getting on that’s why I’m not sleeping.

4- That person seems to be coping why can’t I?

These are all forms of enabling the condition and exacerbating the symptoms.

This type of unhealthy dialogue not only invalidates our pain but prevents us from accepting that there is something we need to deal with.

When these thoughts start to become part of our daily habits, are we trouble?

To get you started with an awareness around anxiety, here are the top 10 symptoms given by licenced medical practitioner Maria Albada LPC.

According to her and the Better Help counselling link attached below the top ten symptoms of anxiety are:

1- excessive worrying

2- difficulties sleeping and restlessness

3- fatigue

4- feeling of doom or dread panic

5- concentration issues

6- irritability and tension

7- heart palpitations

8- sweating and hot flashes

9- shaking

10- shortness of breath

Short Disclaimer…If you have any of these symptoms and they are creating a disruption in your life, I recommend you see a licensed medical practitioner and use these alternative tools as a complimentary support NOT a replacement for actual medical guidance.

Whilst I have suffered with anxiety and found these tools useful for my own benefits and clients healing, I can only advise form personal experiences and do not suggest that these are a replacement for medical advice.

That being said, those of us living with Fibromyalgia know all too well the feeling of exasperation with medical professionals, being told time and time again that there’s nothing they can do to help us, which leaves us feeling hopeless and alone. So… what can we do but take the initiative to find alternative tools for healing. This is what I have done and now I’m sharing them with you.

Why breathing tools?

Breathing tools were first documented in the east at around 700 BC but have more recently become popularised by western culture and used as evidence based practices to support modern medicine.

The science has shown their capacity to reduce the stress hormone cortisol, lower heart rate, balance out blood pressure, improve diabetic symptoms, reduce depression, help manage chronic pain, regulate the body’s reaction to stress and fight fatigue.

Which breathing tools are most beneficial for reducing anxiety?

The most effective tool I have found for anxiety is pranayama breathing and vagus nerve stimulation. There are so many breathing techniques that we can use but, in my experience, alternative nostril breathing is the most effective for reducing anxiety.

Alternate nostril breathing is a yogic breath control practice. In Sanskrit, it’s known as nadi shodhana pranayama. This translates as “subtle energy clearing breathing technique.”

Is it safe?

Practicing alternate nostril breath is safe for most people. However, you. might want to talk to your doctor before starting the practice if you have a medical condition such as asthma, COPD, or any other lung or heart concern.

If you feel any adverse effects, such as shortness of breath, while doing the breathing technique, you should stop the practice immediately. This includes feeling lightheaded, dizzy, or nauseous.

How do we practice it?

Focus on keeping your breath slow, smooth, and continuous. Focusing on your breath will help you to remember where you are in the cycle. You should be able to breathe easily throughout the practice.

To practice alternate nostril breathing:

  • Sit in a comfortable position with your spine straight.

  • Place your left hand on your left knee.

  • Create mudra with your hand by closing the index and middle fingers.

  • Exhale completely and then use your right thumb to close your right nostril.

  • Inhale through your left nostril and then close the left nostril with your fingers.

  • Open the right nostril and exhale through this side.

  • Inhale through the right nostril and then close this nostril.

  • Open the left nostril and exhale through the left side.

  • This is one cycle.

  • Continue for up to 5 minutes.

  • Always complete the practice by finishing with an exhale on the left side.

Top Tip

Every time you breathe in through a nostril you also close off the nostril after the inbreath.

Happy breathing

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