I experience general anxiety. I don’t have extreme panic attacks that leave me floundering about like a fish out of water, but I know others that do. I have heard horror stories about anxiety attacks that leave people paralyzed in its wrath, and being a teacher, I have witnessed anxiety attacks and helped students through them.
My anxiety – well – I’m figuring out my triggers. On the surface I doubt many people could tell when I am feeling overly anxious. It’s like this feeling of suffocation for me. I feel it in my chest all the way to the pit of my stomach: this gripping, gut-wrenching monster.
I have always metaphorically explained my anxiety to that of Ryan Reynolds in the film “Buried”. It feels as though I am trapped in a wooden box buried underground, and I am (trying) to dig and claw my way out with no avail. Sometimes I wish the oxygen in my imaginary coffin would just run out.
I think my own anxiety has led me to become fascinated with psychology, medicine, and how the human brain works. You know – I took a class in college called Educational Psychology. I didn’t really like it. I didn’t understand the purpose for it at the time, but now I wish I had the chance to take more classes like it. Now I wish I had thousands of extra dolla, dolla bills lying around so that I could get a doctorate in psychology. I don’t, but I still have the desire to learn, so I scour the web for resources and lounge around bookstores looking for books that will increase my knowledge on mental illness.
I picked a book up a couple of weeks ago on my way to a funeral and it’s a workbook on anxiety. (I love workbooks. It’s like assigning myself homework.) I just started reading it, but I feel the need to share my knowledge and what I learn with the world. Most of us suffering from mental illness (which at one point or another everyone has I believe – even if just for a short time) look for answers, help, someone to understand. My favorites are Wentworth Miller and Jared Padalecki. They speak so openly about their struggles with depression and try to spread the word to help others.
Anyway – in this workbook it talks about Square Breathing – which is recommended for those who have panic attacks and need to regulate their breathing. I admit that while I don’t have panic attacks that leave me gasping for air, I have found that trying to regulate my breathing can have a positive effect on my anxiety and boost my mood. So here’s what Square Breathing is:
You breathe in slowly for a count of four (4) seconds, hold your breath for four (4) seconds, breathe out for four (4) seconds, hold again for four (4) seconds, and then repeat for approximately two minutes. (See visual below)
Seems easy enough, right? Something to consider the next time you are feeling anxious, or need to clear your mind to make a healthy decision.