Since my last writing, emotions have been riding a rollercoaster from what I have observed in my neck of the woods. World events and politics have been highly emotional, which can create a lot of stress and anxiety in our day-to-day lives, especially if our families and friends don’t necessarily see eye to eye on the issues. It can start to feel overwhelming, and sometimes it can be challenging to not let our passion and emotion get the better of us in our personal relationships with people we care about (and maybe even those people we don’t know all that well). During these times of intense emotion, there are simple tools within your reach that you can use to help regulate moments of stress and anxiety, because finding a way to maintain kindness towards one another is critical during times of volatility.
This is going to seem over-simplified, but here’s the thing; when we take slow, deep breaths, signals are sent to our body that calm the nervous system. Our nervous system is designed to detect threats as part of our survival mechanisms that go back to when we were living in caves. When you focus on slowing down your breathing, taking long, deep inhalations and exhalations, your heart rate slows down and your brain processing changes. You are more calm, level headed, and peaceful.
Next time you find yourself in a situation where you realize you are getting upset, take a moment to notice how your body feels. Do your muscles tense up? Do you get knots in your stomach? Does your breathing become shallow? Maybe your heart rate speeds up?
Try just closing your eyes, and focusing on your breath for a moment. Go some place quiet; maybe go for a walk; change the physical space if needed. Wherever you go – continue to focus on your breath. Feeling your belly expanding each time you take an inhalation, and falling inward with the exhalation; your chest rising and falling with the waves of your breath.
After a few minutes, check in again with your body. Do you feel even just a little more relaxed? Maybe you are a teeny bit less likely to punch someone? I am guessing you will.
This is the power of your breath. You have the power to manage your response to external stimuli that may create anxiety, simply by focusing on your breathing. Give it a try!