Manage anxiety with a calming technique
Written by listed counsellor/psychotherapist: J. Nick McCubbin MBACP MBPsS
12th January, 20150 Comments
This simple and brief technique, used regularly, can be an extremely useful exercise to help reduce the physical sensations of anxiety and to encourage general relaxation through the management of your breathing pattern and breathing timing.
The first aspect to look at is the pattern of your breathing, and this is achieved by following the steps below:
- Find a comfortable chair, where you won't be disturbed and make yourself comfortable. Sitting with your legs uncrossed.
- Try to relax your neck, shoulders and upper body.
- Allow your jaw to drop and slowly breath air in through your nose.
- Breath into your stomach, not your chest. Check this by placing your hand on your stomach and let your breath fill your stomach and push out your hand.
- Open your mouth and let the air naturally flow out as your stomach sinks back down.
The next step is to attend to the timing of your breathing, this is achieved with the steps below.
- Breathe in for a count of four (try putting the word hundred between each number as you count).
- Hold for a count of two.
- Breath out for a count of six.
- In for four.
- Hold for two.
- Out for six.
Being new to this may mean that four-two-six is a little difficult at first. If you find these timings hard start with, try a three in, four out pattern to begin with and then work your way towards the four-two-six pattern as you begin to feel more comfortable.
As you carry out the exercise it can be useful to keep counting your breath in your head, as this helps focus thoughts on breathing and relaxation.
With regular practice this new pattern of breathing will become almost automatic and develop into a useful, healthy habit, helping you to feel relaxed and less impacted by anxiety.
About the author
Nick is a counsellor and psychologist. He runs a private psychotherapy practice in Shoreditch on the edge of the City of London.
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