3 Steps to Calm Your Insomnia, Anxiety, and Stress, with BREATH
Mindful breathing calms our nervous system. Steady breathing activates the parasympathetic nervous system (the calming part) and slows our heart rate, which reduces feelings of anxiety and stress. Here is a simple 3 step mindful breathing exercise you can do anywhere.
1.Use a mantra, tell yourself “I am here in this moment and I am safe”.
If you are in a state of stress and start to breathe, chances are your breath will be short and rapid. This type of breathing can actually induce panic. When I hear clients say breathing makes my anxiety worse, this is most likely the culprit. First become aware of your stressful situation and then take a moment to go inward. Try using this mantra or creating your own.
2. Imagine your happy place.
My happy place is anywhere with water, a lake, the ocean, a river. When I watch the ripples of the water, I instantly feel calm. Unfortunately, I can’t go there every time I get stressed. I have YouTube videos on my phone of the ocean, or sounds on my calm app of water flowing. At any time, no matter where I am, I can close my eyes and picture places in detail.
Go ahead and try it. Imagine yourself in a peaceful scene. What do you see? What do you hear? What do you feel? Is there anything you taste? Go ahead and take a breath, what do you smell? Take a mental picture.
3. Let go.
After you say your mantra and picture your happy place, then let go. Let go of the stressful situation. Whatever is happening in that moment. You will come back to it when you are ready. Practice letting go by physically walking away or in your mind watch as the stressful situation goes out like the ocean tides.
Now it is time to breathe. Go ahead and Inhale for 1, 2, 3, 4. Hold for 4. Exhale for 4, 3, 2, 1.
Do this 4 times.
There you go, you have just practiced mindful breathing. So next time you are in a stressful situation, use your mantra, picture your calm place, let go, and breathe.
Christine Willing, M.Ed., NCSP
Licensed School Psychologist
CEO & Founder Think Happy Live Healthy