Breathing rhythm can help with anxiety

Rhythm breathing can help with anxiety

Breathing rhythm can help you if you are suffering from anxiety. This is because the heart rhythm can be calmed by altering your breathing.  How you do this involves creating a rhythmic cycle.  Taking a few deep breaths is not sufficient on its own, it’s about maintaining rhythm and focus.  When I work with anxiety I find this helps people sooth themselves and helps them develop a sense of control over their anxiety.


How I work

I tend to offer and guide processes. This is because you remain in control through choice. If you want to try the following exercise, this is completely up to you.  This will not solve everything but may be a helpful tool.


Rhythm focus exercise

Make sure you are safe to stop what you are doing.  Find a place to sit still, and focus on your breathing.  This is the one thing you always have control over, your breathing.  Breathing regulates the heart which then regulates lots of other things.   In this exercise, you are also focussing on you, your bodily experience, Dr. Alan Watkins suggests the heart area as a focal point.  However, I would suggest you focus on an area of your body that suits you.


Find your own pattern

Initially, try to get your inhale and exhale into a helpful pattern.  We sometimes get distracted by thoughts.  Every time I notice a thought, I say hello silently in my mind and then let the thought go.  Bring your mind back to your breathing.   Pay attention to it, in the greatest detail, notice what parts of your body are involved in breathing.  Notice how your stomach rises and falls.  Learn a calm pattern of breathing. Try to make the breathing through your nose, if that’s not comfortable, then do it how you want.  Count silently in your mind whilst inhaling, then pause momentarily, then count the breath out, then pause momentarily, and repeat.  We are all physically different, so our patterns will be different.  Just as an example, here is my count pattern.


Inhale  1 2 3 4 5 6

Pause 1 2

Exhale 1 2 3 4 5 6 7

Pause 1

Repeat the cycle and adjust if necessary


Choose the numbers that work for you

Adjust your pattern so that you are not light headed, your counts may be different to mine.  A consistent pattern that works for you is the main thing.  Focus on your bodily experience of breathing and letting thoughts go.  The thoughts come, the thoughts go.  Your mind focuses intently on the rhythmic cycle.  Once you have done your counting a lot and found the right pattern that suits you, then you can drop the counting.  Focus on your body, this brings your experience internal.  You are no longer distracting by constant thinking.  Be persistent, it will take a while to get the body regulated but guess what?  You did it!   


Only do this exercise in a place where you are safe and where you would not put yourself or others in a dangerous position.  Use your attention wisely.

You can contact me using email on this site, or direct email or by phone. Contact me

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