Breathing Exercises for Anxiety and Giving Good Face.

Hello hello hello!

Below is a short and silly video I made on something anyone can do anywhere to calm him or herself down. Stress Relief 101.  The “something” is breathing exercises and since you can’t go anywhere without breathing ( sans your tomb), you can do the exercises anywhere.  If you are prone to anxiety or panic attacks, you should watch the video and then give breathing exercises a try. Seriously. I thought they were so stupid and trivial when I first started doing them to help control my own anxiety, but then I was pleasantly surprised and humbled to learn they do work.  Sometimes the solution is simple and doesn’t involve a copay. 😉

That said, I can still easily lose myself to anxiety, so I have to consciously remind myself to do the breathing exercises.  Using our own breath as a stress-relieving tool is easily forgotten, so I recommend practicing breathing exercises daily, or at the least every other day, which should help put it to memory.  We always have to condition ourselves to change bad habits…

Using our breath to control our mood and emotions reminds me of a book written by Charles Darwin called The Expression of Emotions in Man and Animals. In general, he described the universality of many emotions and how specific emotions are associated with specific facial expressions and muscle contractions. For example, fear is associated with a widening of the eyes and disgust is associated with a crinkling of the nose. It is speculated that there is an adaptive reason behind the emotion-facial expression link.  Why would your eyes widen when you’re fearful? To help expand your visual field and see better. Why would your nose crinkle when you’re disgusted? Perhaps to keep out a foul, poisonous smell.  Along those lines, when we are alarmed, in danger, or under stress, our sympathetic nervous system kicks into high gear. Our heart rates go up, our breathing rate always increases and our blood pressure goes up. Those are physiologically adaptive responses that can save our lives if we are in true danger.  The issue in today’s modern world, is that the sympathetic response is constantly going off and leaving us stuck in a state of chronic stress, and that’s when we start to malfunction, get sick or succumb to anxiety.

The reason I brought up Charles Darwin’s book is because some contemporary research says we can control our emotions through our facial expressions.   For example, if you are angry and your jaw is clenched and your face is giving off a severe frown, the idea is to smile or laugh.  Just the act of smiling or laughing may help propel you out of your anger. Try it. You’ll feel weird at first, but then you might be surprised by how much better you feel. Therefore, next time you are angry, give good face. 😉

This emotional-expression-behavioral link  is sort of the idea behind laughter yoga. In laughter yoga, one laughs spontaneously for no reason and that helps create a positive mood.   I will testify that laughing yoga indeed works- probably better than any anti-anxiety remedy I’ve ever tried.  After my first laughter yoga session, I literally felt manic.   Like, ain’t-no-one-gonna-knock-me-off-of-this-cloud ecstatic.

So perhaps the same link between facial expressions and emotions exists between breathing and stress/anxiety. Think about it. If our breathing rate always increases when we are stressed out or anxious, why not try consciously slowing it down and seeing if that helps alleviate the stress and/or anxiety?  It’s like tricking our bodies to work better for us.  😉  And it’s worth a shot, because anxiety medication can be habit-forming and expensive.

As I mention in the video, there are a ton of breathing exercises out there and they all go by fancy names. You don’t need to know them. Keep it simple. Just remember to SLOW your breathing down, as I show in the video.  To start, just do something simple such as  practicing exhaling twice as long as you inhale.

Happy breathing!  Eeks.   😉


P.S.  If you want to try laughter yoga over skype, message me and I’ll set it up.

P.P.S  Be prepared for a blog on my new form of pet therapy– my puppy, Barnaby.  Hopefully he’ll give me a few minutes free from chasing him around my apartment as he chews everything in sight so that I can write that blog. 😉

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