How To Deal With Anxiety
Feeling Better – Breathing For Balance
Over-breathing, or hyperventilation, sometimes plays a large part in our panic reactions. Let’s look at your breathing patterns.
1. Do you yawn or sigh a lot or take in big gulps of air?
2. Do you sometimes feel as if you are suffocating?
3. Do you experience chest pain, tingling, and prickling and numbness sensations?
4. Do you often feel short of breath as if you are not getting enough air?
5. Do you hold your breath or breathe very quickly and shallowly when frightened?
Should your answer be “yes” to any of the above questions, it’s likely that hyperventilation has a part in your panic reactions. It’s important to check that further now. Whatever causes you to breathe improperly, developing a healthier technique is the key to feeling better.
Here’s something you can do. Place yourself on your back on a comfortable surface, knees up or down. Put one hand on your chest and one on your stomach. Just lie there and breathe comfortably and naturally. Healthy breathing will not be shown to be occurring in the chest. It will be in your stomach and movement should be noted accordingly. The culprit of shallow breathing is what occurs in your chest. You can also count the number of breaths you take in one minute. If it is more than fourteen, you may be breathing too fast. Now, what can you do about it?
You can do the following exercise a few times each day until you develop new habit patterns in your breathing. You can also do it if and when you are feeling stressed. If you are recovering from any recent surgery or muscle injury, check with your physician before trying this exercise.
1. Exhale by pulling in your stomach and letting the air flow out through your nose.
2. Inhale slowly through your nose, allowing your belly to expand; your chest should not. Go slowly, perhaps even taking ten seconds or so to fill your lungs.
3. Repeat the cycle exhaling again. Chest and shoulders relaxed downward. Pull your stomach in slightly to push all the air out (gently).
Human beings, and animals too, respond to danger by unconsciously taking quick shallow breaths. This kind of breathing can cause a variety of unpleasant symptoms. What we now know is that this hyperventilation reduces the blood’s carbon dioxide content, leading to a number of chemical reactions. Although most people think of carbon dioxide as just a waste produce of the breathing process, it keeps the blood’s pH (acid-alkaline levels) in healthy balance. In rapid breathing, however, carbon dioxide is exhaled before it can do its job, and blood and other body fluids become too alkaline. Uncomfortable feelings follow. The pH balance controls the flow of calcium into body tissues, and a fluctuation can cause too much calcium to rush into the muscles and nerves, heightening their sensitivity and making you tense, nervous and shaky. Eventually fingers and toes may feel tingly and cod and heart palpitations can occur. Blood vessels can constrict. This combination resulting from shall breathing can reduce oxygen to the brain by as much as 20%, causing light-headedness, dizziness and headache. One estimate is that at least 25% of the population are chronic hyperventilators. When you inhale deeply and completely, the diaphragm and abdominal muscles work to maximum capacity, getting the exercise required to stay healthy and strong. But when breathing is constantly shallow, these muscles weaken, losing the strength needed to accommodate deep, full breaths – making it more and more difficult over time to resume healthy breathing. The problem then is that you can begin to experience tenseness, anxious, jittery and light-headed feelings even on calm days, days when there seem to be no obvious trigger to your anxiety. Fortunately the problem is fairly easy to resolve. Heighten your awareness of your breathing patterns, and if you have a problem with your breathing, continually encourage yourself to breath slowly, fully, and particularly to breath out fully. If you feel serious concerns with this, do consult with your physician.
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