Stress and anxiety can begin in lots of places. Some of us have a habit of unhelpful, stress-creating thoughts. Others feel the anxiety start in their bodies, perhaps in a racing heart, in tense muscles, or in difficulty breathing. Still others first notice it as an emotional state like fear. No matter what kind of stress life may hand to you, you have a hand in how you guide your recovery from it.
Therapists help you to find where the anxiety begins for you, and teach you skills to intervene there. The videos below, which detail a technique called Diaphragmatic Breathing, stop anxiety where it usually begins – in the body. Many of us first have a bodily signal of stress – for example a slightly elevated heart beat – and then we start to have anxious thoughts as well. Diaphragmatic Breathing is a great way to stop the physiological symptoms before they can even get to creating upsetting and unhelpful thoughts! If your anxiety seems to start in your thoughts, try the technique. Many people find that if they reduce their physiological symptoms of anxiety through this breathing exercise, the anxious thoughts fade too.
The first video is an introduction to the method. The second is just a guided version of the breathing. Hope it helps!
I strongly encourage folks to learn techniques to care for their bodies, including stress reduction techniques. For those of us with anxiety, our bodies are often sending signals that “something is wrong” when it’s not. These techniques are great at turning down the sensitivity level of our danger alarms so that they aren’t constantly firing and freaking us out. This allows us to differentiate between things we really do need to worry about or handle, and those things that are just coming to our attention because our overly-excitable anxiety response is throwing a party.
For some of us though, the danger signals aren’t a misfire of a sensitive system. They are cues that are important for us to attend to. Listen carefully. Treat your body and mind with compassion, and provide relief to it with techniques like the ones below. Please also remain cognizant about what your body or your thoughts may be trying to communicate to you.
If you aren’t sure where you fall on this continuum, get in touch with a good therapist and let them help you. I’m available to some living abroad and to those living in Florida. I provide all of my therapy online through secure live video. I’m happy to help if I can.