Everyone feels stressed or anxious at various times. For many this can impact sleep, have unpleasant physical symptoms like digestive issues, skin complaints etc and it can impact on our relationships with others. Not forgetting our relationship with ourselves too, anxiety and worry can make being kind to ourselves more challenging and can sometimes feel it is never ending. However, it is helpful to remember that all emotions are temporary – they come and go. It is also helpful to remember that mindfulness practice makes us more aware of ourselves so we can notice the very subtle start of unpleasant emotions like anxiety and then we have control and choice to use techniques to manage it. Next time you notice you are feeling stressed / overwhelmed / worried / anxious etc why not try one of these techniques.
The reason for making the out-breath last longer is that inhalation has been shown to trigger the sympathetic nervous system (arousal) and exhalation stimulates the parasympathetic nervous system (the relaxation response). By breathing out more slowly than breathing in you strengthen the relaxation response over the arousal response. You can start at a rate that feels comfortable e.g. 3/6, 5/8 and build up to 7/11. The important thing to remember is to make the length of the out-breaths longer than the in-breaths.
This was developed as a mindfulness practice for children but I use it often and it’s very quick and easy to do!
Noticing things / 5-4-3-2-1
This is a very helpful, grounding technique to do any time of the day or night when we are feeling anxious, overtaken by thoughts etc.
Drop into the Body
There is a guided version of this on the Present Mind Mindfulness App that is similar to this (called the 3 Step Kindfulness practice under Extra Sessions)