Welcome to my first blog article! Anxiety is in the forefront of my mind for my first topic and will probably be so for many more….with 1 in 5 people suffering some form of anxiety that affects the quality of their lives considerably it is a very common problem.
With our busy lives juggling family, work, hobbies and other commitments most people will experience anxious feelings occasionally. Anxiety is a normal reaction to stressful situations and can actually be helpful i.e. the rush of adrenaline and nerve impulses which we have in response to stressful situations can encourage a ‘fight or flight’ response, sometimes necessary where we may be in danger for example.
When individuals experience anxiety they may get a feeling of fear, being scared which then affects us physically in many ways such as nausea, insomnia, sweating, headaches, increased heart rate and breathing and shaking to name a few. These are all perfectly normal reactions to anxiety and sometimes understanding this helps individuals understand and accept their anxiety symptoms, the triggers and practice coping techniques.
However when anxiety starts to affect your daily life on a regular basis then maybe it’s time to consider some sort of intervention. There are numerous types of anxiety such as Generalised Anxiety Disorder, Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, Phobias, Panic, Agoraphobia, OCD and Social Anxiety Disorder.
If you are concerned about your anxiety then you should speak to your doctor who will be able to diagnose your anxiety and/or suggest various interventions. Interventions may include making minor changes to your lifestyle such as diet, exercise and undertaking relaxation exercises, medication or counselling to include Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT).
If you suffer with stress and anxiety occasionally, it may be worth trying some simple breathing exercises (below) to help combat those anxious feelings and physical symptoms.
The Measured Breath
- You can sit or stand. Make sure your hands are relaxed, and your knees are soft.
- Drop your shoulders and let your jaw relax.
- 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.
- Hold the breath for a moment.
- Now release your breath slowly and smoothly as you count to seven. If you can’t manage seven then make it last as long as you are able to.
- Repeat for a couple of minutes.
Belly Breathing for Relaxation
- Breathe in slowly and deeply through your nose. Make sure your shoulders are down and relaxed. In this exercise, your stomach should expand, but your chest should rise very little. So, if you want, you can place one hand on your stomach and the other on your chest so you can feel how you are breathing.
- Exhale slowly through your mouth. As you blow air out, purse your lips slightly, but keep tongue and jaw relaxed.
- Repeat this breathing exercise for several minutes. Make your outgoing breath as long and smooth as you can. The out breath is the key to relaxation so give it your full attention and practice breathing out in a long slow controlled breath and you will quickly feel the benefit.