Breath as a Resource for Anxiety

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Breath is one of most simple and powerful resources we have within ourselves to calm and soothe our nervous system.  To let our body and being know that we are safe.  To still a spinning and anxious mind.  Sometimes it can be very difficult to breathe when anxiety or fear is visiting us.  I remember when I first started working with my breath and trying to breathe deeper it created a sense of panic.  For this reason I always encourage clients to start first with just noticing their breath, the natural flow of in and out, not changing anything just noticing and possibly appreciating the way your body breaths for you.  When this feels comfortable you can start to deepen your breath. "Consciously changing the way you breathe appears to send a signal to the brain to adjust the parasympathetic branch of the nervous system, which can slow heart rate and digestion and promote feelings of calm as well as the sympathetic system, which controls the release of stress hormones like cortisol."

Essential Oils can be very helpful with this process as their scent encourages a deeper breath into the lungs, not to mention all the other scientific benefits they hold for decreasing stress and anxiety.  The molecules in an essential oil go directly to your limbic system (emotional centre of your brain), and within 20 seconds they can work to activate the neurotransmitters in your brain that are in charge of calming and soothing you.

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So after it feels okay to deepen your in breath, you can slowly start to lengthen your exhale.  All the while gauging what feels good for you.  This is important because if you push yourself and don't honour your body's messages and process, it can create more anxiety.  So maybe just for today see if you can start with just observing and noticing your breath and then at your own pace and time drink deeply of all your breath has to offer you.

To read more about the power of breath, and more mindful exercises to try with your breath click the link below;

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Danielle Braun-Kauffman MC, RCC