There are situations that arise in our day to day life that can cause us to suddenly become anxious, in severe cases we can feel sick, our mouths become dry, our breathe shortens and our head feels like it is full of cotton wool and has stopped working. This is wonderful if you if you are suddenly face to face with a tiger while out shopping in Marks and Spencer, your body has prepared you to run away to save your life. But, in the modern world there are no tigers, not in Kilmarnock High Street anyway, and just when we have a stressful situation that requires us to use our brain to analyse the situation and make practical decisions on how to cope our brain decides to shut down and we find it difficult to make any decision let alone a rational one.
One of the first things to do, which is going to be really easy to remember is to breathe. This seems a simple thing to do, and you may have been taught different breathing techniques to calm you down, but when our brains are clouded over, we forget everything we were taught.
So, when anxiety starts from a situation that is not life threatening, start by focusing on your breathing. You are already breathing anyway, all you need to do is notice it, notice your breath as you breathe in and notice where it travels to, as you are stressed it will probably be short breaths perhaps only to the top of you nose, then notice it as you breathe out down your nose and watch it float away, as you start to calm down try to take longer breaths getting the breath down into your lungs, don’t try and change your breathing just make it a little longer each time you breathe in and each time you breathe out.
As you begin to calm down, and your brain begins to clear of the hormones released during the fight or flight response you can if you wish use another breathing technique that you learned. If your mind wonders, just bring it back to your breathing as soon as you notice. It can take about 20 minutes to begin the recovery process so don’t do anything or make any rash decisions during this time. Give yourself space to allow your body to relax and your thinking brain to take over again which will allow you to make a reasoned decision on how to deal with the situation and you might find that means doing nothing at all. The best decisions are always made after a good night’s sleep.
Breathe deeply, until sweet air extinguishes the burn of fear in your lungs and every breath is a beautiful refusal to become anything less than infinite
D. Antoinette Foy