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  • Katharine West

Ease anxiety - Look for the calm within yourself

Updated: Feb 3, 2019



Belly Breathing


Anxiety tends to manifest itself as tension in the shoulders and abdomen, from continuous breathing mainly in the upper chest and collarbone region. Constant clavicular breathing like this can signal to our sympathetic system that we are in stress. To counter that, try breathing into your belly, which allows the diaphragm to properly descend and expand, stimulating the parasympathetic system (our rest and digest mode!) and helps shift us into a calmer state.


How-to: Either sitting or lying down, place your hands on your belly and begin to slowly breathe into your hands. As you inhale, feel your belly expand; as you exhale, feel your belly fall. Breathe slowly and do your best to fully expand your belly and then fully let it relax as you breathe. If you have trouble expanding your abdomen, use your hands to create light pressure on your belly.



Mindful Meditation


Meditation helps us create space between a stimulus (external or internal) and our response to it. It brings presence and mindfulness into the way we live our lives and gives us the ability to see things for what they are. Creating that space in the mind really helps us see the anxiety for what it is and buffers the intensity of the emotional charge to it. Most of the time, if fully immersed in meditation, the anxiety disappears.


How-to: Find a comfortable place in your home that you will return to daily. Begin by turning your phone on airplane mode and setting a timer for yourself. I suggest starting with 5 minutes a day, then gradually move to 10, and eventually longer. Find a comfortable seat and start by simply taking a few deep breaths - choose a word to repeat each time you start a meditation (this will act as a trigger to all meditations so choose carefully). Allow your eyes to close and begin to notice the weight of your body, and the points of contact with the ground. Notice the sounds around you, then come back to your body and do a quick scan of it, noticing how your physical body is currently feeling and noticing your overall mood as well. Then, bring your attention to your breath: Where is your breath moving as you inhale and exhale? How quickly (or slowly) are you breathing? Take the next few moments in stillness to just observe and listen to your breathing. When you are done, slowly open your eyes and take a moment to thank yourself for taking the time for yourself.


Belly Breathing


Anxiety tends to manifest itself as tension in the shoulders and abdomen, from continuous breathing mainly in the upper chest and collarbone region. Constant clavicular breathing like this can signal to our sympathetic system that we are in stress. To counter that, try breathing into your belly, which allows the diaphragm to properly descend and expand, stimulating the parasympathetic system (our rest and digest mode!) and helps shift us into a calmer state.


How-to: Either sitting or lying down, place your hands on your belly and begin to slowly breathe into your hands. As you inhale, feel your belly expand; as you exhale, feel your belly fall. Breathe slowly and do your best to fully expand your belly and then fully let it relax as you breathe. If you have trouble expanding your abdomen, use your hands to create light pressure on your belly.


Posted by: Katharine West, Wellbeing Coach

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