I was recently asked for some techniques that could be used to reduce anxiety and stress.
When I work with someone who is experiencing anxiety in their life, I am able to streamline the skills and techniques to their specific needs. The more I know about the specific circumstances causing their stress and the unique personality of the individual, the easier it is to find the techniques and skills that will reduce their symptoms.
Each individual experiences anxiety in a different way than others…so a one size fits all isn't the best way to look at it. What works for one person may not necessarily work for another. We are a very unique and in our relationship with stress this also applies.
One person may be aware of physical symptoms, such as tightness of breath or racing heart or sweat palms. Another person may be aware of anxious thoughts and beliefs clouding their judgment. Another person may feel emotionally blocked or stuck. While another person may feel their energy is racing like a car in neutral with the gas pedal to the floor. Certainly more than one of these levels may be present at any particular point in time as well. But it is useful to become aware of the level that is dominant at any particular time. Then you are able to do something actively to address that particular level of symptom consequently shifting to a more calm, soothed, settled place.
For the purposes of this article, I will offer a few techniques from the first category that I mentioned which is the physical level. Note that these techniques will work better with some people than with others. I will cover techniques from the other levels in future articles.
As an overall technique for stress when working on the physical level I would say…
S L O W E V E R Y T H I N G D O W N as best you can. Slow down your breathing by saying - I am breathing in 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, now I am breathing out 1, 2, 3, 4, 5. Repeat this for a few minutes. This count may be longer or shorter depending upon your comfort level. See if you can gradually lengthen your breath. Diaphragmatic breathing is best which may need to be specifically taught and practiced in order to be useful during a time of stress. Here is a link to a you tube video on diaphragmatic breathing: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kgTL5G1ibIo
When we inhale, our bellies ought to expand out like a balloon filling with air (especially below the waistline) and when we exhale, our abdomen empties out like air leaving a balloon. It is very common to see people do the exact opposite to this. They often suck in the belly on the inhale and lift up their shoulders. This inhibits the capacity for air in the lungs. And adds tension to our breathing. Try dropping your shoulders and expanding your belly on the inhale for a fuller, more relaxed breath. Place your hands on your belly and feel your fingers expand open and outward on the inhale. Use your imagination and see the red balloon blowing up on the inhale and releasing the air on the exhale. Play around with it. Come up with your own images that work for you. Customize it for yourself. It can go a long way to help you in your time of need.
Soften your eyes, feel as though your tongue is thick and heavy and let your jaw drop if you can. Give yourself a vacant look. This gives a message to the brain that you are relaxed and at ease.
A mindfulness practice or yoga practice that keeps you connected to and practicing some breathing skills can be very useful.
In future articles I will give you other physical techniques as well as techniques for anxiety that shows up on the levels of thought, emotion and energy. Until then, practice and play around with these breathing techniques, making them your own. Try them in the morning or at night before bed or at lunch or coffee….or in the bank line-up…wherever you like. You will be thankful that you did.
Contact me for an assessment and customized practice. The results are well worth it!