My beautifully truculent co-inhabitants of this wondrous planet. Full stop. Take it in and just be that… as individuals… as the collective consciousness… as organisms co-existing on a rock… just be that. Perhaps a dash less truculent but that is, after all, our nature. But come. Come. Take it in. If you’re confused, you’ve obviously not had enough of the spice. Pumpkin. Spice.
Gross. I grow weary of this. Daaaviiiiiiiiiiiiiiiid!
There we are! The beginnings of a new episode! Sorry, pumpkins, I’ve been battling new beginnings and navigating non-existent challenges, but! Soon to be back.
Good day, darlin’s. I just wanted to share this sketch with whomever wanted to look. Life can be a bit of a dick; other people, outside circumstances, and even your own self and decisions can break you. But the more often you put yourself back together, the easier it gets (I certainly heard that from somewhere else, but I’ll second it). And sometimes from the greatest struggle can come the purest joy. I’m not usually one for platitudes, but sometimes it’s okay to buy in.
TL;DR The Creature Comfort series looks at how different our inner voices are, how affecting they are, and how we can work to lessen the negative messages to increase the volume (in both senses!) of the positive ones. Jump to comic.
Well, hallo there, you spectacular beauties! Welcome to a new, intermittently-dispensed series on navigating the emotional rollercoaster of life with mood and anxiety disorders.
I’m writing this foreword retroactively to when I posted this first wee comic, as I’m now in a much better headspace and can contextualize it. I also want to give a little background on Creature Comfort and their relationship to the main character in the comic series who, spoiler alert, is kind of an avatar for myself.
I’m a creative at heart, for better or worse, whether I’m absolute dog shite or the bee’s most athletic and sprightly of knees. When you’re an old millennial like me, you’ll understand how important your knees are, therefore how wonderful athletic, sprightly knees are.
I sketched and doodled a lot in my teen years before turning primarily to writing as my creative outlet. In early 2020, things took a nosedive as they did for many. After 6-7 months of increasingly worse symptoms, I was finally diagnosed with gastroparesis. I was working 16 hours a day for my regular job, plus another 8-15 a week part-time to afford living where I was. During this, I could barely eat, I’d already lost a significant amount of weight, and I could barely stand without shaking. At one point, I had to go to urgent care for dehydration because I could barely stomach fluids. I lived alone, and my family were all about 700 miles away. My saving grace here were some amazing friends who would come by and check on me and help out and generally be great.
Anyway, I ended up having to quit my job/s and move back home. I was low, and I felt cognitively slow at times. It was hard to express any kind of feelings after that, because I would get so overwhelmed so easily. It was like suddenly I had a speech impediment and the lexical range of a three-year-old. But… you don’t need words to draw.
I began to draw as a form of therapy. I drew what was going on in my head, using a creature to help represent inner conflict. Well, not necessarily conflict. Creature Comfort is the embodiment of those little voices that sometimes pipe up in your head: the little criticisms when you’re feeling low, the cheerleader when you’ve done good, the voice of caution you sometimes don’t listen to (you know that Tinder date, smh), that one voice that sounds a lot like a loved one comforting you. Yeah, you know the ones.
The Creature Comforts series looks at how different those inner voices are, how affecting they are, and how we can work to lessen the negative messages and increase the volume (in both senses!) of the positive ones.
Well, hallo and welcome back, you beautiful convergence of minds on a mission to mostly just miss the next five minutes of dead space. Empty space? Dead air. Radio silence! The state of things these days…what a shitshow. Ammiright? For the past couple of weeks, I’ve thought about writing on a few different “COVID and” topics but one stands out more than the rest. Surprise! It’s mental health.
In the past month alone, how many times have you heard someone bring up the importance of mental health? Obviously, there are many reasons why:
Mental instability/unrest does not a successful quarantine make
Pandemics stir up fear and uncertainty, taking away any sense of control
According to Psychiatrists Beware! The Impact of COVID-19 and Pandemics on Mental Health, published on March 15, “Although the effects of the coronavirus on mental health have not been systematically studied, it is anticipated that COVID-19 will have rippling effects, especially based on current public reactions. On an individual level, it may differentially exacerbate anxiety and psychosis-like symptoms as well as lead to non-specific mental issues (e.g., mood problems, sleep issues, phobia-like behaviors, panic-like symptoms).” You know, all the fun ones!
So, what does COVID-19 mean for those of us dealing with our own mental illness(es)? Means you’ve got to put some work in, friend. I think it’s fairly safe to say that a majority of people are not in an ideal situation. You’re either out of work or overworked, living in isolation or stuck in a house with too many people, maybe you don’t have enough supplies or money, your neighbors are playing “Eye of the Tiger” way too loud on repeat and you cannot rise to the challenge again or so help you God… What? Oh, right, yes.
Regardless of what your situation might be, you’re likely going to have to put in more effort than normal (that’s more effort than you normally would, as well as more effort than “normal” people) to stay balanced. According to Managing and Understanding Mental Health Concerns During the COVID-19 Pandemic, “For some, it is or will be critical to seek out professional mental health care, especially for those who are already experiencing mental health issues like substance use disorder, depression, and anxiety. Many therapists are now offering telehealth services, so individuals do not have to leave their homes to receive care.” There are numerous telehealth/teletherapy offerings, so that’s definitely worth looking into.
For those of you still working, you may be hearing twice the amount of “take care of your mental health” talk, because employers are harping on it. Some of this talk is out of genuine concern. I don’t mind saying that. I’m even confident in saying that. But also, this is business. According to Jason Wingard’s article, Mental Health In The Workplace: Leading In The COVID-19 Context, “Today’s leaders no longer have a choice about whether or not to advocate for mental health. They need to vocally address the issue, describing their own challenges and urging team members to seek help if they, for example, feel hyper-lonely from self-isolation or debilitatingly anxious about the spread of COVID-19.”
Our mental health—and that includes our employers, who are also people who put their pants on one leg at a time (they’re just like us!)—our capacity to use logic, reason, and common sense uninhibited by paranoia, anxiety, self-doubt, compulsive behavior, suspicion, etc., is kind of what helps to keep a business running smoothly. “In fact, the WHO estimates that every $1 invested into ‘treatment for common mental disorders’ will return $4 in improved health and productivity,” explains Wingard.
So, if you’re still working, you might be at one of those jobs where you are a touch overworked just at the moment. Maybe it seems like you can’t take a mental health day. But why does it seem like that? The CDC, the WHO, your employer (probably) are all telling you to take care of your mental health! So why does it feel like you can’t take a mental health day? According to Wingard, “In 2019, a Mental Health America survey of 10,000 workers found that 55% were afraid to take a mental health day because they thought they would be punished.”
It kind of still feels like that, right? You’re being urged to protect your mental health but maybe the company you work for is understaffed, people are sick. Maybe layoffs are happening and if you take off, you may look expendable. It may seem like you look less than invaluable. We’re in this very uncomfortable position where we’re being told to take care of ourselves, but we’re scared that we’ll lose our livelihood if we try. That’s why I’m going to leave you all with one piece of advice:
No, Dave, it’s not any of the song lyrics that would normally follow (although, if I had to choose, it would be to collaborate and listen). Sure, I could make false predictions all day long and whisper sweet nothings into your ear until you got a restraining order, but let’s not go there. I’m trying to earn your trust after all.
My advice is: Just stop. Take a moment to just sit down and regroup. Try letting your thoughts go on autopilot and see what comes to the forefront. If something jumps out, then maybe that’s a problem/desire/tangible thing you can focus on to start getting your thoughts in order, achieving a sense of mental balance. If nothing really pops out more than anything else, that’s okay. Sometimes just taking a moment to stop helps settle the mind. Ultimately, you need to figure out what is best for you. If taking a day off work is going to be more stressful than not, then don’t do it. But if you need a mental health day, don’t be afraid to take it. You are worth taking care of! And, please, if you or anyone you know is or may be contemplating harm to themselves or others, get help immediately.
Hallo, darlings. We’re back at it today with this depression topic re-visitation. On last week’s exciting episode, we covered the relationship between depression, anxiety, and anger, and how they work together in a positive feedback loop to amplify depression. Afterword, not even Dave’s corner cowering could keep us from diving into the somatic symptoms of depression and how pain and depression work together in a… well, a positive feedback loop that can amplify depression. I’m sensing a pattern here. Anyway, on this week’s emotionally unsettling conclusion, we’re finally going to address the social implications of depression and its role in self-worth. *Spoiler alert* We’re looking at another feedback loop.
The reason I wanted to look at anger and pain in relation to depression is to highlight some of the moving pieces working against the depressed. Anger and pain are both negative experiences that one needs to develop proper coping mechanisms for in order to respond appropriately. Let’s look at two different reactions to a scenario:
Scenario: Dave walks into his living room while texting a friend. Attention divided, he stubs his toe.
Reaction one (RO): In the 15 seconds after stubbing his toe:
Dave experiences a burst of pain
On the heels of that burst of pain, Dave experiences anger
Dave’s anger increases as he realizes his toe stubbing was a result of him not paying attention
Because Dave has no one to blame, he feels a bit stupid and embarrassed (regardless of the fact no one is around)
Dave doesn’t like to feel stupid or be embarrassed—it makes him angry
In the midst of the pain and anger, Dave comes to the conclusion that it’s the phone’s fault he wasn’t paying attention
Dave throws his phone
Dave begins to feel embarrassment about his behavior (still no one around)
Dave experiences a decrease in his sense of self-worth
Reaction two (RT): In the 15 seconds after stubbing his toe:
Dave experiences a burst of pain
On the heels of that burst of pain, Dave experiences anger
Having stubbed his toe many times before, Dave realizes the pain will subside quickly, so he should just breathe and ride it out
Dave sits on his couch and continues texting his friend, experiencing no significant changes in mood or sense of self-worth
Obviously, RT is the ideal reaction—the reasonable reaction. If you read RO and thought, “Well, that’s pretty childish,” you’re right! Spot on! Bravo, you! Individuals unable to learn and incorporate proper coping skills when it comes to negative emotions tend to react childishly to things. I think it’s important to point out here that it’s perfectly normal for anyone to have the occasional outburst. Shit happens, you might overreact, but you regroup and move on and that’s that. For someone with depression, it’s not as easy. There’s too much of a cascade effect. One stubbed toe could lead to a multiple-week-long depressive episode. Thankfully, this is an issue that can be eased with behavioral therapy and/or counseling.
Seeking Value from Without
Before we get down to it, I just want to say that you, whoever you are reading this… You have value.
Our sense of self-worth is based on several things but can (for ease and brevity) be narrowed down to two categories: The value we place on ourselves (inside value) and the value others place on us (outside value). Ideally, there would be a balance between the two. For someone with depression, though, more stock is put into outside value. This is why some individuals with depression seek out the company of friends and family during darker times, which can be immensely helpful if the individual is in happy, healthy relationships. On the other hand, self-worth based on outside value can be crippling without those solid, uplifting relationships.
Some individuals relying on outside value, but who lack healthy relationships, tend to exhibit attention-seeking behavior. This is by no means a negative thing—although it can be. Attention seeking behavior can include: positive emotional outbursts, negative emotional outbursts, withdrawing from social situations, acting helpless, being overly helpful, being the center of conversations, and if I list any more we’re going to fall into a larger mental health topic. So, I’ll stop there. Again, these are all pretty normal behaviors when done sparingly, but it becomes problematic when someone exhibits multiple attention-seeking behaviors on a consistent basis. What’s worse is that these attention-seeking behaviors can lead to socially awkward situations, which lead to embarrassment, and… Hey! We’re back to anger! And after anger comes guilt, depression, and a lowered sense of self-worth. And, of course, how you cope (both inwardly and outwardly) with these negative emotions and situations can further devalue that sense of self-worth.
On a Bigger Scope
**Please keep in mind that the following is a very generalized breakdown of some social implications of depression and a low sense of self-worth. While the below statements may apply to some (and in varying degrees), they won’t to others. To get more specific, we’d need to look at the different types of depression and how they affect different personality types and what’s chemical vs behavioral and on and on. You get the idea.
Building and maintaining relationships is integral to being a reasonably well-adjusted adult. How you relate to and with others helps dictate the type and quality of people who want to be around you. It also plays a major role in your career. The problem is that your sense of self-worth tends to be evident to others, whether overtly or on a more subconscious level. It’s a bit harder to like and want to be around a person who doesn’t particularly like his/herself. Because it takes more energy to be in any kind of relationship with that type of person, they’ll have fewer relationships and, likely, more contentious ones. Additionally, people with a lower sense of self-worth are more vulnerable to manipulative personalities and have a higher likelihood of ending up in long-term abusive relationships. A person relying on outside value has to be real fuckin’ careful about the company they keep, but they also have to balance how much they rely on others.
One of the biggest relationships in most people’s lives is their job. We spend a lot of time and energy there, and it’s one of the most logical places to find outside value, whether it’s from work friends, acquaintances, bosses, clients, customers, vendors, whomever. Again, it’s totally normal to desire or seek out praise and/or notice at work. But it becomes a problem when you rely too heavily on your place of work for outside value because it becomes exhausting for others. Furthermore, exhibiting attention seeking behaviors could hurt your credibility as a professional and disrupt those around you. This need for notice, the need for outside value, could end up lowering the outside value you receive, and then? Well, then you have a lowered sense of self-worth.
It’s a Lot
Over the course of this series, we’ve barely scratched the surface of depression in all its un-glory. If you know someone with depression or are just looking to understand more, I hope this helps. For those of you dealing with depression, reach out for help when you need to. Discover ways to increase inside value. Work with a behavioral health specialist. And, please, if you or anyone you know is or may be contemplating harm to themselves or others, get help immediately.
Hallo, you fantastic beauties. I haven’t written for myself—or for you—in a long while. But here we are! Together again! Now, ahead of National Condom Month, I want to talk about depression. I’ll wait while you investigate whether that’s an actual thing. The condom part, I mean, not depression.
All joking aside, I’ve been wanting to talk about depression again for a while. The problem lies in how to address something so large and weighted with so many layers. I want to talk about depression in terms of self-worth and social implications, but to get there I feel like we need to walk through the various psychosomatic effects of depression, and to get there we need to touch on the relationship between depression, anxiety, and anger …
Well, fuck, let’s give it a try! What say you, Dave? Dave? Dave, why are you cowering in the corner?! Sorry, guys, I think Dave is going to sit this one out. Let’s dive in, shall we? And, don’t worry, darlings, this will be a two-parter.
The Fanning of the Flame (or if you’re southern: Adding a Little Lighter Fluid)
If you pop back over to my series on Mood and Anxiety Disorders, you’ll notice that depression and anxiety often go together … But anger? I’ve only recently thought about the relationship between anger and depression, but according to Fredric N. Busch’s article, Anger and Depression, “The oversimplified concept of depression as ‘anger directed inwards’ was a commonly held belief over many years in psychiatry.” Though today anger is more often considered a symptom of depression, there is little denying some type of correlation. Busch goes on to discuss defense mechanisms as applied to the anger-depression relationship. These mechanisms include denial, projection, passive aggression, reaction formation, and identification. Since denial, projection, and (everyone’s favorite) passive aggression are pretty familiar terms, I want to cover the other two in more detail:
Reaction formation (as presented by Busch citing Freud): The individual denies their anger and instead increases their efforts to help others. Since the underlying issues causing anger aren’t addressed, feelings of rage intensify and can become directed inward, exacerbating depression.
Identification: The individual links their self-image with someone who is aggressive and has made that person or others feel disempowered, frequently triggering guilty feelings which can exacerbate depression. This mechanism can help the individual with assertiveness, coping with anger, and creating boundaries but also has a lot to do with the idea of perceived power and can lead to abusive and controlling behavior.
While these psychoanalytic mechanisms are dated, more recent studies have also shown a correlation between depression and anger, whether that anger is outwardly expressed or not. According to Depression is More Than Just Sadness: A Case of Excessive Anger and Its Management in Depression: “Previous studies have revealed that patients with anger attacks are significantly more depressed, anxious, and have ideas of hopelessness compared to patients without anger attacks, and they were more likely to meet criteria for [histrionic, narcissistic, borderline, and antisocial] personality disorders in comparison to depressed patients without anger attacks.” The relationship between depression and anger causes a sort of feedback loop wherein anger can lead to depression and depression to anger. And, ultimately—obviously—the Dark Side.
Depression: It’s a Pain in the Ass
Fun fact: not only can depression itself be debilitating, it can also lead to major chronic health issues and be a hindrance to rehabilitation and healing. Okay, okay, so it was a not-so-fun fact. According to Depression and Other Common Mental Disorders: Global Health Estimates released by the World Health Organization (WHO) in 2017: “The consequences of [depression and anxiety] disorders in terms of lost health are huge. Depression is ranked by WHO as the single largest contributor to global disability (7.5% of all years lived with disability in 2015); anxiety disorders are ranked 6th (3.4%). Depression is also the major contributor to suicide deaths, which number close to 800,000 per year.” Spoiler alert, the situation hasn’t gotten any better.
Depression can play a role in immune, cardiovascular, and gastrointestinal health—among others. According to Depression as a Risk Factor of Organic Diseases: An International Integrative Review, “Depression often predisposes individuals to physical illness and disease.” The review assesses findings from 23 studies that consider depression in relation to various physical illnesses, including cardiovascular disease, metabolic syndrome, diabetes, Alzheimer’s, anxiety, and asthma. While the review “offers evidence that depression can be a risk factor for physical illness and disease,” even more intriguing is the study of depression-related pain.
Some studies on depression and somatic pain have shown a correlation between the two, although causation proves difficult to identify. In some cases, individuals suffering from depression may experience such issues as low back pain, jaw pain, and acid reflux. While causation is unclear (it’s kind of a “chicken or egg” situation), the Depression as a Risk Factor review states that there is “a strong association […] shown between severe depression and somatization, and the somatic effects of depression were unrelated to organic disease (Aguilar‐Navarro & Avila‐Funes, 2007; Drayer et al. 2005).” If I’m citing something citing something, is that reverse inception? Anyway, the review goes on to say that “depression and pain are independent processes that share a common mechanism that can lead to the onset of each other.” Furthermore, individuals suffering from depression tend to experience a decrease in pain tolerance and increase in origin-less pains.
Next Week’s Titillating Adventure
Now that we’ve covered the relationship between anger and depression and the psychosomatic effects caused by the unholy trinity (just assume anxiety is a habitual lurker), we can dive into the self-worth and social implication side next week.
It’s not uncommon for you to hear that people suffer from anxiety. In fact, there’s a good chance you know someone who suffers from it. But do you really know what it is? Anxiety is considered an uneasy feeling that is accompanied by both concern and worry, most of the time about some upcoming situation or event. Many of these instances are also filled with great uncertainty, as well.
Now, the upcoming events don’t have to be a big thing. People with anxiety can start having symptoms from a wide range of events, from studying for a test to visiting a new place. Anything can bring on anxiety if you have it.
If you have an anxiety disorder, then you know firsthand that it can persist in your everyday life. You can start feeling anxious to such an extent that it affects your relationships, overall well-being, and even your work.
Similar to most other disorders, there are several different types of anxiety, including:
Each type of anxiety has its own debilitating symptoms that are slightly different from other types. Since there are so many different types of anxiety, it is a very common disorder that affects almost one-third of adults at one point or another in their life.
If you have one form or another of anxiety, there are several herbal remedies for anxiety that may help alleviate your symptoms. These herbal remedies have been studied specifically in regard to treating anxiety, so have been extensively researched. Remember to always do your own research and consult your doctor before trying any new herbal supplement or remedy.
1. Passion Flower
Clinical trials have shown that passion flower may be able to help with anxiety. Since passion flower is usually mixed with other herbs in most commercial products and supplements, it is difficult to distinguish the particular qualities of the herb. As long as you take it as directed, passion flower is considered to be safe; however, there have been studies founding that it can also cause dizziness, confusion, and drowsiness.
While initial studies were very promising and showed great benefits in anxiety treatment, later reports claimed that kava had the potential to cause serious damage to the liver. These reports, while they have been questioned, have caused the FDA to put out warnings about dietary supplements that contain kava. If you do decide to try kava to help with your anxiety, be sure to use caution and get your doctor involved to monitor any side effects.
Studies have shown that Valerian users reported a lower amount of stress and anxiety than those who did not use it. Valerian is also considered to be safe if you follow the dosage guidelines. It can, however, cause some minor side effects such as dizziness, drowsiness, and headaches.
You may already know that lavender is popular in aromatherapy, but it is also popular as an oral supplement. This is because lavender will help you to reduce your anxiety. While the evidence about this is somewhat limited, side effects of taking oral lavender have been known to include headaches and constipation. On top of that, it can also increase your appetite.
Marijuana for the treatment of anxiety is one of the most common reasons that people use it. This is because studies have shown evidence that marijuana can be extremely effective for treating anxiety disorders, no matter what the type. In fact, using cannabis to treat anxiety was first recorded in the year 1563. Garcia de Orta, a Portuguese physician, stated that it would remove all cares and worries from anxiety sufferers. He described marijuana as helping to calm and relax you, and may even put you in a hypnotic state.
If being used to treat anxiety for almost 500 years wasn’t enough, long-term users of marijuana have reported that they have noticed reduced levels of anxiety and stress and an increase in relaxation. Studies have also been done to confirm what many throughout the years have claimed. In 2014, a study from Vanderbilt University discovered that regularly smoking marijuana can potentially increase a naturally occurring chemical in the brain known as endocannabinoids, which become reduced during times of extra stress. While this is not definitively proven, researchers have a theory that this reduction in endocannabinoids is one of the major causes of anxiety.
Finally, marijuana is not only safer and more effective in treating anxiety than traditional anxiety medicines, but it can also help you get off any prescribed anxiety medicines, most of which normally have some extreme side effects like dizziness, internal bleeding, and even rectal bleeding. When you are looking for the best herbal remedies for anxiety, remember that herbal supplements are not regulated or monitored by the FDA. This means that some company’s quality may be a little lower than what is led to believe.
If you are thinking about using an herbal remedy to help treat your anxiety, be sure to speak with your doctor prior to starting. While there are many different herbal remedies available to help you treat anxiety, you should always be sure to do your research on them before testing them out. This way you’ll be safe and will limit any potentially hazardous side effects that may be caused by your new herbal remedies for anxiety.
If you have ever experienced a panic attack or a sudden wave of anxiety, then you know exactly how miserable they can be. Your heart starts to pound a little harder, your breathing becomes a little shallower, the butterflies start fluttering in your stomach, and all you want to do is curl up in a ball or just simply get out of wherever you are.
While it may seem that you are the only person that this happens to, you aren’t. In fact, many people suffer from anxiety attacks on a daily basis, and it is extremely common. Luckily, there are some breathing exercises for anxiety relief that can help you deal with the situation, and even help prevent it from occurring altogether.
If you have ever had an experience that left you with an overwhelming feeling of anxiety, fear or even dread, you have experienced an anxiety attack. There is good news, however. Anxiety attacks, also referred to as panic attacks, can be treated and even prevented.
What Causes an Anxiety Attack?
Anxiety attacks are the result of over worrying or concern. When there is something that really concerns you—or that you’re afraid of—it will cause your body’s stress response to start a series of events that affect your endocrine and nervous systems. Your body’s reaction to this response is what dictates the strength of the anxiety attack. The higher your concern or worry is, the greater the anxiety attack.
Anxiety is a tricky thing as it keeps trying to convince you that you are in some type of danger, even though you are actually in no danger at all. And while it can feel as though you are having a heart attack if your anxiety gets severe enough, the chest pain that you feel is from you not being able to breathe properly, which tightens your chest. This is exactly why you need to practice proper breathing exercises for anxiety relief.
Why Breathe for Anxiety?
Amit Ray said it best: “If you want to conquer the anxiety of life, live in the moment, live in the breath.” If you want to be able to take control of your anxiety and control yourself when an anxiety attack strikes, you must train yourself to breathe correctly. By harnessing the power of better breathing, you are forcing your mind to focus on while relaxing your nervous system.
Doing so means that you will be able to calm yourself down and lessen the strength and amounts of your anxiety attacks.
Here are a few benefits of doing breathing exercises for anxiety relief:
It is instantly effective
It is extremely simple to do
It works on a physiological level that will automatically start to slow your heart rate
It calms down all your body systems
It can be done anywhere
It is free to do
Best Breathing Exercises for Anxiety Relief
While there is no shortage of breathing techniques that will help you to lessen and prevent your anxiety, it is best to try several of them out and see which one you like the best.
CO2 re-breathing is a breathing technique that allows you to rebalance your levels of oxygen and carbon dioxide. This is especially effective if you have been hyperventilating. While it won’t necessarily completely stop an anxiety attack, it will help to reduce the severity of the symptoms.
With CO2 re-breathing, what you want to do is either use a paper bag or cup both of your hands over your mouth. You then start to breathe into the bag or your hands slowly. Be sure to use deep, regular breaths and continue doing so for about five to ten breaths.
Relaxation Through Deep Breathing
While relaxation deep breathing to help you relax isn’t going to stop an anxiety attack from occurring, it is very effective for reducing high-stress situations that could lead to an attack. By the time you get to your tenth breath, you will have more than likely become much calmer and more comfortable.
To maximize relaxation through deep breathing, you will want to sit down in a comfortable position with your back straight and your arms at your sides or in your lap—whichever one is more comfortable for you. You then take a deep breath in through your nose for a count of five. Hold this breath for two to three seconds, then exhale slowly out of your mouth for about six to seven seconds. You want to breathe out as if you were going to whistle. Now repeat this ten times.
Equal Breathing “Sama Vritti”
If you have ever had trouble falling asleep, you have more than likely tried to count sheep. This works the same way. It will help to interrupt the racing thoughts going through your mind or whatever it is that is keeping you from relaxing. It also helps to calm your nervous system and get you to redirect your focus.
To get started, you must first find a comfortable meditative pose. Start to inhale for a count of four, then exhale for a count of four. Repeat this ten times. As soon as you start to feel more comfortable, try to extend the inhaled and exhaled breath for counts of six to eight.
When you try using the best breathing exercises for anxiety relief, you can tell that they are working if you start to feel calmer. When you start to feel an anxiety attack coming on, by stopping what you are doing and immediately going into these breathing exercises for anxiety relief, you will help yourself to overcome the symptoms and even prevent an anxiety attack altogether.
Just remember that incorporating breathing exercises for anxiety relief is in no way a cure for anxiety, but rather a tool to help you prevent and overcome the symptoms of anxiety if you should need to.