I’ve recently been experimenting with a specific breathing technique that doesn’t reduce my worrying thoughts (sorry still no luck there), but it does help reduce the associated tension and help me feel better. The idea came from ‘Ian’ on the Anxiety UK website. Here it is in his own words:
‘A very useful way of bringing down anxiety is through your breathing. Basically, if you breathe out for longer than you breathe in, you activate the parasympathetic nervous system – the body’s natural relaxation mechanism. Try breathing in to a count of 5 and out to a count of 9, but the exact count doesn’t matter, just as long as you make sure you exhale for longer than you inhale.’
I decided to give this a go. I found it works when I have a few minutes to sit quietly. A difficulty with the technique is that I often notice that I’m anxious when I’m talking to someone. It is not possible to halt the conversation, explain that I need a quick breather and then will resume once my anxiety is under control! So I have been trying to use the above breathing technique at quiet moments during the day, for example when making a cup of tea, sitting at my computer or waiting at a bus stop.
The result has been to reduce some of the unpleasant sensations that follow a bout of worry, such as tension, knots in the stomach and exhaustion. It is only part of the jigsaw puzzle of things that help, but it is another useful stepping stone. I hope that if you give it a try you will find it useful too and thanks to Ian for this suggestion.