Anna Nalick’s hit song “Breathe“ perfectly encapsulates the feelings of anxiety that are so common in today’s society.
Cause you can’t jump the track, we’re like cars on a cable And life’s like an hourglass, glued to the table No one can find the rewind button girl, So cradle your head in your hands And breathe…
An estimated 18 percent of the entire adult population suffers from anxiety and 1 in 12 adults suffers from depression. As startling as this may seem, many people feel utterly alone when they experience panic, a lack of interest in things they once loved, avoidance of social situations, and even unrealistic but anxious thoughts. While chiropractic care and neurofeedback therapy can certainly help treat a person’s chronic anxiety, the solution to augmenting treatment at home is as simple as breathing.
Common Anxiety Symptoms
Most people who experience anxiety will describe two symptoms as the most troublesome. They will tell you their heart is going to “pound right out of my chest“ or it feels like, “I feel like I’m constantly gasping like I’m shocked or surprised.“ When you are anxious, your body is in a constant “fight or flight“ mode. This means you are biologically preparing to fight a predator or flee from one. Your pupils dilate, your heart rate increases, your digestion slows, and you feel twitchy and nervous. Since your body does not distinguish between anxiety at the prospect of facing the day ahead and a lioness on the prowl, chronic anxiety means you are constantly experiencing the fight or flight response, even when there is no threat of danger.
The Power of Breath
Research has begun to validate what many people with anxiety have discovered in yoga and other meditative practices. Breathing slowly and consciously has the power to limit the fight or flight response a person with anxiety experiences. Heart rate variability (HRVB) training, has proven effective at slowing a person’s heart rate, augmenting clinical therapies like neurofeedback and helping to manage symptoms at home. What sounds highly technical is actually quite simple. Taking six intentional breaths in one minute can bring your heart rate down, make the interval in between beats consistent, and help you feel more relaxed and in control.
How to Breathe with Intention
There is an app called Breath Ball that shows you exactly how to breathe intentionally using a blue ball. As the ball expands, you inhale. As it grows smaller, you breathe out. Practicing yoga also has the same therapeutic effect with an added endorphin bonus to help regulate your mood. Meditation apps like Stop, Breathe and Think take even the most reluctant breather and turn them into a master. Best of all, unlike other apps, it begins by asking you how you feel and customizes your practice to your needs. If your phone is causing you anxiety, you may be better off to establish a habit of breathing when you feel anxiety start to kick in. Using an increased heart rate as a cue, take 12 deep breaths that each last about 10 seconds. In less than two minutes you will begin to feel the effects of a slower heart rate and better clarity of thought. Anxiety is frustratingly common, but it doesn’t have to be debilitating. Using something as simple as the breaths you take can impact how you feel almost immediately.