How often do you check in with your breathing? As someone who started getting panic attacks when I was 21, I know all to well how important breathing is; especially after feeling like you can’t breathe at all. Before I share some things about my experience with anxiety/panic disorder, please take note that I am not a doctor or a clinical psychologist, so please please understand the information I share with you derives from my personal experience and what has worked for me. It may or may not work for you, and so if you do experience anxiety/panic disorder and are on medications, it’s best to talk to whoever you see for that before you decide to make any changes. That being said, a good doctor will be helping you resolve your anxiety disorder because it is something you can heal from and take control of from my experience. You are not doomed for life. If something resonates with you, awesome–remember ultimately you are responsible and accountable for your choices and life
Learning to Breathe
When I started university, I was in my early 20’s, was a single mother with a year old baby, just got out of an abusive/unhealthy relationship, had anxiety/panic disorder, was having panic attacks almost every other day, and coping with addiction. One of my girlfriends was teaching yoga and suggested I try it to help with my anxiety. She met me after class one day to teach me a few things and it was FAR from fun or easy. She was so calm, and I felt like my skin was crawling and I wanted nothing more than to be out of my own body. I was so anxious all the time.
We sat across form each other and she started guiding me along with her breathing. Breathe in through the nose, and out the mouth. Well shit, anyone can do this I thought..except she stopped me after two breaths and told me I wasn’t breathing properly. This was the beginning of me learning how to breathe again. The years following I literally had to retrain my brain and body how to breathe. From the ages of 17-28 my life was mostly chaos and I was in constant survival mode, although it’s safe to say that the anxiety had already been stored in my system from childhood/inter-generational trauma and was fully triggered. These were the years anxiety and that slimy little shit sidekick ‘depression’ were at an all time high for me. Anyone who has had experience with anxiety knows it doesn’t come without the dark depression stage–which can throw you in a slump for days, if not weeks.
I was prescribed medication by my doctor to help with relief, but I just couldn’t do it. I took some Ativan a few times after my car accident because I could barely function at that point, but the pills stayed in the bottle on top of my fridge; something deep within me told me it wasn’t the way for me and learning to breathe again was. Breath is so important because it is LITERALLY our life force–and when we are aware of our breath or deep breathing, we are drawing divine energy into our body. It is instinctive, but when we are in states of distress we forget about our breath or hold it in–and our basic instinct TO BREATHE drops. An example: People will breathe quickly when they are late, or hold in their breath when under pressure…so basically I was holding my breath for many many years without being conscious of it. No wonder I had high anxiety and was depressed–your breath regenerates your body by bringing oxygen to your cells and keeps you ALIVE! Being anxious all the time is exhausting and sometimes can make you feel half dead. Now you know why.
How to check in with your breath.
Practice conscious breathing using the full capacity of your lungs, not just the top part. Becoming conscious of my breathing has changed my life in so many positive ways. I do it in traffic, in lines at the grocery store, working, at the park, out with friends(just kidding I don’t have friends) 😉 or anywhere I catch myself and think to check in with my breathing and body. It’s now become a program in my brain and body after practicing so much. People who are anxious are usually waaayy too much in their heads projecting into the future..sometimes I still get all up in my head–but one of the best things to do for relief is to consciously drop back into the body and get grounded. So, if you’re down, try this out. Deep breathing 8-10 times a day. In through your nose and out your mouth. When you’re breathing in, your belly should push out. This is also a good way to cultivate self-awareness, so try it out. Believe me, it can SHIFT your life.
How do I know?
I’m Living Proof.
Love to all.