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Why Proper Breathing Works

By Angel Shadow

If you've experienced anxiety, you know the importance of proper breathing. During an attack, your breathing pattern changes from the lower lungs to the upper lungs. This creates shallow, chest breathing and can cause hyperventilation. Hyperventilation causes symptoms such as: dizziness, shortness of breath, tingling/numbness in the hands and feet, nausea, tightening of the throat muscles, and confusion. By changing your breathing pattern back to the lower lung area, you will stimulate the parasympathetic nervous system, and this will naturally calm your body down. The amount of time it takes to come down depends on how overwhelmed your nervous system has become. The faster you catch yourself becoming anxious, the faster you can bring yourself down.

The emergency response system in your body reacts immediately, on many physical levels. This is the reason anxiety attacks can hit so hard and feel so terrible. Physically, your body is responding to what the brain is saying, and the brain is saying there is danger. When you can't locate the danger in your immediate surroundings, it tends to add more panic, which your body responds to on a deeper level. Before you know it, you're in the middle of a full blown attack.

In a lot of ways, anxiety truly is all in your head. It starts with the brain sending out an emergency response so the body will react and defend against the supposed danger. Even though there is usually no sign of danger, the mind will continue to tell you there is until you calm yourself down. You can't rationalize with a mind/body being overrun by adrenaline. You have to calm down before you can think and react in a rational manner.

Calming down the mind and body will not occur in the speed at which the emergency response took place. The emergency response happens with lightning speed. Your job is to recognize the adrenaline rush and immediately respond to it with calming thoughts and proper breathing. It works... everytime. But don't expect it to happen immediately. It takes the body time to come down from a serious adrenaline rush. Understanding this will help you stay focused. Give your body at least 15-20 minutes to purge the adrenaline and restore natural balance. If you keep your mind calm, you will keep your body from respiking. If you respike, expect to start all over again.

Proper belly breathing takes place in the lower lungs. Place your hand on your stomach. With each inhale (slowly through the nose) you hand should be pushed out. On each exhale (slowly through the mouth) your hand should move in (toward your body). Imagine your hand pushing the air out of your body. If you're like me, this is an uncomfortable way to breathe, and if you're not used to it, it will take some time to reprogram your mind to do it. I was a chronic, shallow chest breather most of my life. Simply changing the way I breathe made all the difference in the world.

By activating the parasympathetic nervous system you decrease blood pressure and muscle tension. Your heart rate and breathing will slow down.You decrease oxygen consumption and start to experience a calming of the mind and body. The parasympathetic nervous system is designed to naturally calm the body. No medication required. Your body has the ability to restore its natural balance. So help it out. You do have control over the mind/body connection.

Anxiety can be controlled through positive, calming throughts and proper breathing techniques. Keep your stress levels as low as possible. This isn't always easy with responsibilities throwing themselves in your face on a daily basis, so try to get in touch with your inner voice. How do you speak to yourself? How do you respond to stress? How do you hinder your body's ability to maintain a natural healthy balance?

Work on changing your negative thought patterns. Remain aware of how you breathe. This process will work if you allow it to, and that is the key. ALLOW yourself to remain relaxed and calm. ALLOW your breathing pattern to change. ALLOW your subconscious programming to be changed. Don't allow anxiety to dictate your life. Allow yourself to be in control.

This is the 5th of a 5 part series on stress/anxiety (Part 1 - 2 - 3 - 4)

Copyright © 2007 Angel Shadow, All rights reserved.
My ancestry is Irish and Cherokee Indian and I have a gypsy spirit that refuses to be fenced in. I am definitely not a conformist. Much of my life was spent under the control of others. My childhood was full of abuse and neglect, which lead me to my volunteer abuse work. It also lead to anxiety and panic attacks, which I suffered from for years, so I'm dedicated to helping others in that area as well. I have now found my own personal freedom, based on my own personal truth and nothing could be more liberating.

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