I don’t think I’ve ever experienced anxiety before, I don’t really think I even knew what it was. But last year I experienced one of the most uncomfortable months of my life to date. It all started after I had been ill earlier in the year and I had not long since returned home from hospital. A few months before I had caught a flu type virus, that spread to a pleurisy type infection on my heart, and in return triggered a serious case of arrhythmia. The arrhythmia made my heart beat abnormally fast, (up to 228 bpm was my highest recorded) and it would usually happen when you least expected it.
At its most serious it woke me from my sleep and continued to beat at a ridiculous speed and I hadn’t even got out of bed. My time in hospital unnerved me and being told that I might die was also a little worrying to say the least.
Then, during the first week out of A&E I started to panic every time I came to sleep. I could feel the restlessness in my body, my temperature increased and I could feel my heart rate begin its nightly tremor of the terror of being afraid to fall asleep and never wake again.
This anxiety stayed with me for almost 30 days, a self-propelling battle of nervous and misdirected energy. I had to mentally, physically and verbally tell myself I was not going to die in my sleep and focus on something other than the pain and confusion.
Then I went straight to the cause, my heart, by learning more about this and understanding how and what it really does makes it a little more friendly to your thinking. I also told myself a huge amount I will be ok. The brain and heart are truly amazing things, and when they work in harmony they share the wonderful experiences together.
In amongst all of this misunderstanding I had also forgotten what I had been trained and born to do, Breathe! This is one of the most natural human things we do, but regularly do completely wrong. Biggest majority of people only tend to shallow breath throughout their day, month, year, life etc…
It sounds so simple and usually the last thing you want to be doing when everything seems in turmoil around you. But close your eyes and breathe. These will always be my words of advice for anyone experiencing anxiety. I practiced abdominal breathing and then I practiced some more. In doing this I not only improved my relaxed state but I also improved my lung capacity and the ability to run or walk longer without even doing any cardiovascular exercise.
The human body is a truly outstanding natural achievement and we often forget or never really shown how to use it to the best of its ability.
There are many different types of approaches and techniques for breathing that have usually been taken from Yoga or Tai Chi breathing. Search any of these out and please do give them a go. I managed to self-heal and I’m sure you will too.
Here are a few useful tips that may help when you are starting to feel anxious or half way through an anxiety attack.
- Tell yourself and repeat out loud – I am calm, I am calm, I am calm. This not only reassures it in your head, but it also tells your brain to send signals around the rest of the body to tell other parts of the body it is calm.
- Stay in one position – either sitting, lying down or standing still, allow your body to find a natural pause and stop. Sit very still, close your eyes, imagine yourself on a warm beach, step into a small sail boat, sail out to an island in the distance and leave your thoughts behind.
- Take deep breaths in through your nose and out through your nose, keep your mouth closed.
- Learn your triggers of what make you anxious, in doing this you will have more control over your own emotions and why you feel the anxiety. Read, write, shout, sing dance, do anything that gives you more control over your feelings and learn how those feels make you feel and act.
- Lastly, share and talk about what you are experiencing, you are not alone, you are not so different and it can happen often and for many different reasons. Don’t suffer in silence, and don’t forget to breathe.
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