There are many types of anxiety, and because of this, people can have very different symptoms and responses. I have heard many explanations of how people have felt during anxiety episodes that were nothing like what I felt. There is no right or wrong; there is just what is perceived by each. When I experienced anxiety, I had some very consistent symptoms, shortness of breath and a feeling of overwhelming fear.
Common Anxiety Symptoms:
- Shortness of breath
- Feeling of fear
- Heart racing
- Loss of sleep
- Sweaty hands
- Upset stomach
- Muscle tension
By identifying my responses to my anxiety, it gave me an opportunity to discover how I could go about dealing with it. Because the horrible thoughts of my mind began to feel very real, my body started to react as if it was in the situation. The feelings of fear that I would experience were made worse by the short and shallow breathing.
My anxiety was like when you watch a great movie, and you are so caught up in it, that you feel your heart racing and your body tense up during intense scenes. What I had to realize was that much like a movie, my thoughts were pure fantasy. As well, I needed to be in control of my breathing to gain control over my current state. By reminding myself the thoughts were not reality and focusing on my breathing it brought me back to the present and helped deal with the symptoms.
Breathing has become a proven method for dealing with anxiety attacks. As breathing is something that is within our control, it is one of the easiest symptoms to treat. Although it can feel like you can’t your breath at times, you must stop, pause, and then let out the air. Once you have done this, you can then begin to breathe in again. A very effective breathing pattern that I used to help me was to breathe in for a three count, hold for a three count, and let it out for a five count. I would repeat this ten times and regain full control of my breathing.
Benefits Of Deep Breathing:
- Calms heart rate
- Focusing on your breath brings you back to the present
- Releases endorphins(which make you feel good)
- Relaxes tense muscles
- Lowers blood pressure
- Improves digestion
Try it now to see how it works. Think of a situation that has made you feel anxious. Close your eyes and put yourself in that moment of anxiousness. Notice how your body reacts. It will be different for everyone. Take a second to observe all of your body and understand how it is responding to the feelings of stress. Do your hands get sweaty? Do you tense up in your shoulders? How are you breathing? Now stop!
At this point pause your breath for a three count. Now nice and slowly begin to let the air out. Count to five as you exhale. Next breathe in for a count of three. Finally, repeat this breathing process ten times.
Notice how you feel now. Take a chance to feel the difference in your body from when you were feeling anxious to now. Be aware of what has changed. This exercise is an excellent way to help understand how controlling your breathing can instantly assist you with situations where anxiety creeps up on you. This one step alone can dramatically improve your life as you gain the ability to regain control of yourself even in the face of anxiety.