- by Dr Gowher Yusuf
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- Feb 09 2017
Teens: How do you learn to cope up your anxiety? Activity 29
Source: The Anxiety Workbook for Teens by Lisa M, SCHAB, LCSW
When people are anxious, their breath tends to be shallow and rapid. Making a conscious attempt to breathe more deeply can help you relieve anxiety.
If you watch newborn babies breathe, you will notice that their stomachs rise and fall with each breath. That is because they are naturally breathing deeply and carrying their breath all the way down into their diaphragrams. Babies have not yet learned to be stressed. As adults, we tend to inhale our breath into our nostrils, our throats and sometimes down into our lungs. But rarely do we breathe so deeply that our abdomens move in and out. Most often, our anxious thoughts and hurried activities causes us to breathe using only the upper parts of our respiratory systems. Sometimes, when we are much stressed or in a rush, we may even hold our breath intermittently without realizing it.
Deeper breathing helps relieve anxiety by slowing down our heart rates, relaxing our muscles, and bringing more oxygen deep into our bodies and brains, nourishing our cells more completely and helping us think more clearly. When we are breathing deeply, we are physically less tense. We are also better able to remind ourselves to use positive & rational thinking skills instead of anxiety-producing self-messages and distorted thinking.
Before trying this breathing exercise, it is recommended that you complete Activity 28: following your breath, which will give you practise in finding and following your breath.
Sit or lie down comfortable. Close your eyes so that you can better concentrate and block out distractions. Place your hands gently over your abdomen. Pretend that there is a round balloon in your abdomen, with the opening at the top, or closest to your lungs. Now inhale, and think about pulling your breath all the way down through your body, through the balloon opening and to the bottom of the balloon. As you inhale, let your abdomen rise to make room for your breath. Think about using this breath to fill your body with fresh air, filling the bottom of the balloon first, then the top, then completely filling your lungs from the bottom up.
When you are ready to exhale, gently press down on the bottom of your “balloon” and push the air out of your body from the bottom up, emptying the balloon first, then your lungs and chest.
Repeat this pattern slowly for several minutes, or until it starts to feel comfortable.
Breathing in this way may seem awkward at first. Some people even become anxious because they feel they cannot do it “right”. Understand that it is normal to start out feelings this way. It is something new that your body and mind are not used to. The more you do it, however, the more familiar it will become and the more you will be able to relax. Try to take your time and know that eventually you will get the hang of it. Don’t set yourself up for feeling by trying to do it perfectly.
1.Circle any of the following things that you noticed while you tried the breathing exercise:
Breathing got deeper, felt awkward, heart rate slowed down, felt peaceful, felt a little anxious, muscles relaxed, muscles twitched, felt stiff, mind wandered, let go of tension, felt sleepy, breathing got steadier or other.
2.Following is a list of situations in which people can use deep breathing to help relieve anxiety. Circle those that have happened or might happened to you:
Giving an oral report in class, taking a test, performing in a recital, going on a job interview, taking your driver’s test, going on date, getting a lecture from your parents, going through a haunted house, performing in athletics, having a tense conversation with a friend, doing something new for the first time, jumping or diving off the high-dive board.
3.Now make list of personal situations in your own life in which you could use deep breathing to help you relieve anxiety.
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