They are not a cure, they are first aid tips to help your body cope more successfully with your inappropriate anxiety.
In order to eliminate anxiety from your life completely, it is important to understand that the ROOT CAUSE of the anxiety needs to be addressed directly.
The root cause of anxiety and panic attacks is found in the part of the brain responsible for the anxiety response.
This shift in the way the brain handles the anxiety response CAN be adjusted, quickly and easily to provide a permanent elimination of your anxiety disorder.
Like all 'well-oiled machines' the human body requires fuel to function and this be supplied to us in two forms, food and air.
I will discuss the role of foods in anxiety disorders later. As we all know, air quality is vital to the health of the human body, polluted, smoky or stale air can lead to a variety of health problems.
The lungs and respiratory passageways are efficient at filtering much of the larger impurities out of the air we breathe but cannot assist us with breathing technique.
What must be remembered is that the respiratory system has two functions, not only to inhale fresh air but also to exhale the by-product of respiration, carbon dioxide.
It is very easy during times of stress to neglect correct breathing. Subconsciously, our autonomic nervous system - the part of the nervous system responsible for carrying out the automatic bodily responses like breathing, digestion and brain activity - becomes affected by muscular tension and other stress reactions, altering the breathing patterns we take for granted.
These changes are not dangerous, but are enough to upset the normal body chemistry associated with good health. As blood oxygen and blood carbon dioxide levels fluctuate under stress, certain systems become affected causing sometimes quite severe and disturbing symptoms; these are visible as panic, anxiety and stress.
Correct breathing can:
The symptoms associated with bad breathing are numerous and include, dizziness, shortness of breath, pins and needles, pains in hands, feet and muscles, pain over the heart and shaking to name but a few.
I cannot put enough emphasis on the importance of re-balancing correct breathing. The autonomic nervous system works because it is a totally involuntary set of nerve impulses, which regulates a multitude of bodily functions without having to involve your conscious thought.
Whether you are awake or asleep, your body continues carrying out these functions. Now add stress and your body mechanism is disrupted, its daily blu22eprint is altered like a clock that's running too fast. The breath becomes shallower; this is recognizable as shorter breaths, which expand the chest above the diaphragm, (the sheath of muscular tissue which lies at the base of the rib cage across the chest cavity), but leaves the stomach still, this is called hyperventilation.
The breathing also becomes quicker combining this with shallow breathing results in imbalances of oxygen and carbon dioxide levels in the blood. What we have to do now is re-set the clock, retrain our bodies and slowly move the correct breathing technique back into place. This is not as difficult as it sounds and as it happens through correcting breathing, the subconscious mind is learning new behavior and rebuilding new habits.
During hyperventilation, you might find you are experiencing some pretty scary symptoms and could be heading towards a full-blown panic attack. Through regular, light exercise, relaxation and breathing exercises you can take control of your body, redressing the imbalance, becoming free from your anxiety. Many hospitals run classes in the Alexander Technique and similar breathing techniques and exercises. Tai Chi, Yoga and meditation all implement correct breathing as part of their practice and provide muscular stretching and muscle toning exercises too.
If you spend a lot of time sitting, remember to walk around as much and as often as possible. Sitting at a desk very often produces bad posture, which compresses the organs in the chest cavity and belly area, the heart and lungs become compressed and the digestive system slows. Move as much as you possibly can without straining.
Some people say that you should take deep breaths to calm yourself whilst panicking or experiencing high anxiety, this is wrong advice!
Lots of prolonged in-breaths will make your more anxious and tense.
So when you wish to relax, inhale fully (but stay relaxed) and then, without pausing, exhale slowly. Then repeat this as many times, as required.
Prepare for stressful events in advance if possible. Do this by practicing this simple breathing exercise as long as possible before the event.
It really does help!
Most people neglect correct posture and on the whole never experience any negative effects until quite late in life, back ache and neck pain being the most common of these. If a person with anxiety also suffers with incorrect posture this can have a profound effect on the level of anxiety symptoms.
I have already discussed that breathing is one of the factors in the Holy Grail of anxiety disorders. If you correct the breathing patterns and anxiety levels will fall.
Posture has a profound effect on breathing, if muscles and bones are compressed a certain amount of restriction has to be expected.
Anxiety can cause a person to become guarded, they feel, subconsciously, that they need to protect themselves from danger. Like a scared hedgehog that roles itself into a ball to protect its soft vulnerable belly, we too tend to sit with our arms crossed, our legs tucked tightly to our bodies and our shoulders and torso rolled at the waste when we are anxious.
This posture is achieved totally subconsciously but is seriously unhealthy; it compresses internal organs including the heart and lungs and it inhibits good circulation and causes muscle, tendon and nerve pain.
If you feel that you are doing this try and correct it, the more you are aware of what you are doing, the more you can practice good posture. If necessary, ask your relatives and friends to tell you when you are doing it, if you change this you will feel better almost immediately.
In our modern life we are less likely to stand, walk and run for long periods. Over the last one hundred years human habits have evolved quicker than at any other time in history; we have more stressors, life is faster, more expensive and definitely more competitive.
Our bodies, however, have not evolved to accommodate these changes in life practice; this can cause incompatibility between physiological makeup and activities. Over sustained periods of physical and mental pressure caused by these incompatibilities, physical problems can develop which manifest themselves as stress. Physical activity promotes more effective circulation, muscle fitness, cardiovascular fitness and healthier lungs.
Lack of exercise, bad posture and poor air quality in our modern offices can be very damaging. The average person that works in an office probably sits for at least five to six hours of the working day and only moves to walk to the coffee machine, to grab a quick cup of stimulant, just to kick-start that adrenaline. Sitting in an office chair is not bad in itself but should only be done for short periods with activity in between.
The sitting position compresses the torso and the organs below the diaphragm are pushed upwards towards the chest cavity restricting the lungs and heart. If you are overweight, this compounds the problem. Shorter shallower breaths are taken and blood oxygen and blood carbon dioxide levels are compromised.
Most of my work is done seated at my computer. I have recently bought a kneeling chair, which has improved my posture, but I used to feel terrible if I had been seated for long periods. The discomfort was not always apparent immediately, but would sometimes carry over to the next day showing that breathing can be altered drastically and persistently over extended periods.
I feel that bad breathing and posture could explain many of the symptoms associated with work related stress. It doesn't take too long for a person's natural breathing patterns to be altered enough to cause some unpleasant symptoms including anxiety, panic disorders or depression.
Couple incorrect posture with radiation from monitor screens, poor quality recycled air or air conditioning, lack of fresh air, central heating, coffee drinking, long hours and an angry boss and it is easy to see why the epidemic of 'work stress' related illness is developing.
To improve bad posture, it is important to find a seat that keeps the back straight, try not to lean onto the desk. In this position the chest cavity is at its optimum size whilst sitting. Physical activity helps maintain good circulation and allows the skeleton, muscles and other bodily tissue to stretch, opening up the joints and allowing the body to breathe.
Try to avoid drinking too much coffee or tea, as they are both stimulants. Make sure you get copious amounts of good quality, fresh air, open a window if you can and try to get outside of the building during break times if possible.
Here are a few examples of diversion tactics to use whilst having an attack. Practice them, they really work!
Do any amount of these diversion tactics simultaneously if possible. They won't cure your anxiety but they may help.
The Linden Method was developed over a decade to show you EXACTLY what you need to do right now in order to redress the imbalance which causes and perpetuates the inappropriate anxiety that you experience every day.
Anxiety is caused and perpetuated by an organ in the brain called the Amygdala. When the Amygdala becomes disrupted it causes us to experience a higher level of anxiety than is appropriate.
By addressing this directly, the Linden Method turns anxiety disorders around, quickly and permanently.
Author of The Linden Method® and
CEO of The Linden Centers