Welcome back, friends!
In my last post, I talked about how helpful mindfulness breathing has been for me, and how it can help you too.
This week, I want to keep the focus on the breathing. I am almost finished reading a book by Dan Harris, who is a news reporter for ABC news (Nightline and GMA). He had a panic attack on live television and decided something needed to change. The root of the problem, it turns out, was his running mind. The book is called “10% Happier” and you can buy the paperback version in stores or online. It is very helpful to hear about someone else’s struggle with running mind, especially someone who is in the spotlight constantly.
It turns out, his main aid to stop his running mind was meditation. He spends a great deal of his book talking about meditation and how and why it has helped him. He also gives statistics about how it has helped others. He goes on to say that meditation has helped alleviate symptoms from illnesses such as: ADHD, asthma, IBS, depression, and psoriasis. He also states that meditation helps immunity and reduces hormones that cause stress. With such great benefits, why isn’t everyone meditating yet?! Truth be told, not everyone feels capable of staying still for just ten minutes a day. Max Strom, renowned yogi teacher and healer, gives a great Ted Talk on this same issue. I will put the link below so that you can have a listen. It is very useful.
Meditation is becoming more and more common and mainstream, and big corporations have begun to implement this practice in the workplace to improve their workforce.The happier your workers are, the better the final product. It seems like everywhere I turn I am learning something new about improving and alleviating anxiety with breathing. It has really, really saved me.
I don’t want to make it sound so so easy, as if you just hoof and heave and your anxiety is gone…poof! No. No, not really. It takes work and effort. I would like to give a personal example. I have been very anxious lately, more than normal and it feels like my mind is a hamster on a wheel, going going, spinning, spinning. The old me would freak out and judge the fact that my mind won’t stop, but instead, whenever I find myself in one of these situations, I turn to a simple breathing exercise. It goes like this: breath is for 5 seconds, hold for 5, and exhale for 5. Repeat 4 times and see if your heartbeat has slowed down, and notice how your body is feeling. I used this today at the doctor’s office. I was waiting for over 30 minutes past my appointment time and was using my work lunch break. Once my lunch break time was used up, I started to panic and I worried I would just burst out in tears when the doctor came in. I sat on the observation table and began this breathing exercise, and slowly calmed down. This was perfect timing, because when the doctor arrived and told me I needed an MRI on my spine (lumbar injury :(), my response was a lot calmer and I was able to stay collected and cool for the rest of the day.
It’s not always that simple, some days you will need to go sprint down the road or hit a punching bag because breathing exercises just aren’t cutting it. If you are ever here, enraged, I encourage you to go somewhere private and just do push-ups. Why push-ups? Because they take a lot of upper body strength and, most likely, the rage and anxiety will make the push-ups feel easier. When we have anxiety, a stress hormone is released and we need to use that hormone instead of just sitting there. Imagine a tiger starts running towards you, your body releases the stress hormone and you run. It’s the same with your usual anxiety, do something about it. With push-ups, it’s a win-win because you are eliminating anxiety and strengthening your bod. If you have some limitations with pushups, you can always opt for another strengthening exercise, such as jumping jacks or mountain climbers.
With the holidays and the New Year upon us, I wanted to start ending each post with something I am grateful for. I keep a gratitude journal and it really helps to remind me about the good things in each day. This is a great exercise for people with anxiety. Just write down three things you’re grateful for every day and see if you notice any change in your daily mood.
I am grateful that my back injury isn’t so serious and that I can continue to exercise normally (like running the Rocky steps in Philly-see below).
Please feel free to comment below and let me know how all of these exercises work for you!
Goodnight and be well!