Try this if you want to reduce anxiety

September 7, 2020
Danielle North

A simple Pause tool for those times you want to calm anxiety and an overworked mind.

Here's a simple breathing exercise for calming both the nervous system and the overworked mind. It’s a breath where the exhale is longer than the inhale. When your exhale is even a few counts longer than your inhale, the vagus nerve, which is a nerve that runs from the neck to the diaphragm, sends a signal to your brain to turn up your parasympathetic nervous system and turn down your sympathetic nervous system. When the parasympathetic system is activated your breathing slows, your heart rate drops, your blood pressure lowers and your body is put into a state of calm.

Start by sitting comfortably. Put your feet of the floor, if you have anything in your hands put that to one side now, rest your hands gently in your lap. If you notice your mind is busy, that’s OK, just allow the thoughts to come and go.

Begin to notice your breath. The inhale and exhale. Become aware of the air naturally entering your body and naturally leaving. Notice how your breath is today. Is it shallow, is it deep, where does naturally want to go? Can you be with it just as it is for now?

Now gently begin to deepen your inhale. Breathing in through your nose, down into your belly and out through your mouth. On the next breath, your exhale is going to be 2 counts longer than your inhale. So as you inhale you might count to 4 and then as you exhale you might count to 6.

Each person’s breath is different so experiment with the count that suits you, find your own rhythm. You can’t get this wrong everybody is different; it’s just counting and breathing. Settle into your own breathing rhythm, where your exhale is two counts longer than your inhale.

If you can, at the top of your inhale pause for a second before you exhale. So you inhale for 4 - pause - exhale for 6. Inhale for 4 - pause - exhale for 6. Keep going with the breathing, and settle in to your count, your rhythm and your breath for 10 cycles (more if needed).

Now you’re going to return to a normal breath. As you return to your natural breath, notice how you feel in this moment.

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