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Are you familiar with that throat-restricting, gut-wrenching anxiety that makes breathing impossible and functioning even more so? Have you experienced lying in bed at all hours of the night, mind racing from point A to point B and back again like angry bees circling a hive? It’s not a fun place to be. But it is an interesting place to be, and it is an opportunity for change.
How to Keeping Smiling, Even When You Can’t Breathe
Earlier in the day, I wasn’t worried about my parents passing, about the mortgage getting paid, about the stability of my nonexistent pension. And not a single thing had changed between three in the afternoon and nine at night, when the sun was sinking, and those issues grew to a size larger than life, large enough to keep me awake and worried, restless and preoccupied.
It doesn’t make sense. Nothing had changed. Or so I thought . . .But on closer consideration, I realized something had changed—one small thing. And that one small thing, in fact, the only thing, that had changed was my mind. The good news is that as easily as your mind can go off the deep end, you can quickly reel it back in.
The following three steps bring instant relief from chronic anxiety:
1. Notice your breath. It’s physiologically impossible to be anxious and to breathe deeply at the same time. Think about it. What’s your breath like when you’re sobbing or upset?How do you respond to a shocking surprise? What does it mean to “wait with bated breath?” Inhale for a count of four. Exhale for a count of four. Focus your mind on this eight-second count and feel anxiety melt away.
2. Look for areas of tension in your body and soften those muscles. Soften and relax the tiny muscles around your eyes. Smoother out the skin across your forehead, the bridge of your nose, and your cheekbones. Scan from the tips of your toes to the top of your head, methodically softening and releasing every muscle fibre along the way. Pay particular attention to where you know stress tends to settle. That may be your stomach or your throat, or it might change with the circumstance. Once you become aware of the tendency, you have the power to reverse and, eventually, prevent it.
3. Remember that fear and faith cannot co-exist. Choose one. Choose faith. Simply defined, fear is the absence of faith, and having faith ensures an absence of fear. If worry has taken your brain hostage, somewhere along the way you’ve lost faith. Reconnect to that source of comfort and intuition through journalism, prayer, reading, meditation, or mantra.
If you have a legitimate concern, determine what you can do about it right now, this moment. If something can be done, then take action. If nothing can be done, then re-route that fretful energy towards finding your solution.
With time and persistence, these quick tips will become second nature, and you can banish anxiety for good!
Article by Eryn Kirkwood, Guest Blogger for the BodyMind Institute