Breathing and other physical movements and exercises can have a positive effect on our whole being. They also go a long way to helping us overcome our fears. Here are some of the most popular methods.
Yoga is the perfect exercise to do in order to help stop panic and fear. Yoga is a combination of breathing and movement. It is an ancient practice that melds together the body, mind and spirit. Breathing is very important in Yoga because it prepares the brain to be calm. The different stretches and poses of yoga center the body and make it stronger and more balanced. Another part of Yoga is meditation. Meditation is used to link the spirit to the mind and the body. Many practitioners run thorough a litany of mantras and positive affirmations while meditating, posing and breathing and this can reinforce confidence and overcome fear. When you do your exercises repeat your positive affirmation mantras to banish fear. For example, if you are afraid of crowded areas a good affirmation to repeat could be: “I enjoy being around others and people like me.” The repetition of the mantra wiggles into the subconscious mind in a positive manner and you might find yourself gravitating towards crowded areas with no problems at all.
Mothers-to-be are taught breathing exercises in order to deal with the pain of child birth. There is a good reason for that. It is a great way to stay calm and relax as much as possible when in labor so that everything goes smoothly. Deep breathing slows the heart rate, relaxes muscles and demands concentration. Yoga breathing also deals with deep breathing and does similar things.
The following exercises are easy for anyone to accomplish because you can lie on the floor or on a bed, or sit in a chair while doing them.
Lie flat on your back, raise your knees and put your feet flat on the floor or on the bed.
Place one hand, palm down, on the abdomen right under the ribs and breathe as you normally would for one minute.
Relax and breathe deeply, pausing between each breath. Notice if your hand rises and falls with each intake of breath. If your shoulders are going up and down instead, you are not using the diaphragm, and not breathing to your full potential. The diaphragm is a circle of muscle that is right under the ribs and goes around from front to back. When you breathe in through your nose, the diaphragm should move out and raise your hand. When you exhale out through the mouth, the hand and diaphragm should go in.
Try breathing using the diaphragm. It should be easier lying down than sitting up because when reclining there is pressure against the back and allows the diaphragm to work better. Your hand goes up and the diaphragm goes out when you inhale and the hand goes down and diaphragm goes in when exhaling.
Once you get the idea of breathing correctly, you can continue. You should already feel a bit relaxed. Perform six breaths and hold your breath between the inhale and the exhale. Breathe in and out slowly.
Avoid breathing too quickly or over doing it because you can cause hyperventilation, which makes it feel like you are suffocating or like you are very light headed. Do this exercise at least once a day and gradually increase from six breaths to 12 breaths over time.
Another breathing exercise draws air across the tongue and causes a cool sensation that calms the nervous system. Do it while sitting in a chair or by sitting cross legged on the floor.
Cool Breath Breathing
Stick the tongue out of the mouth and curl the sides of it up. Your tongue should look like a roll or straw.
Lift the chin up pointing to the ceiling.
Breathe in using the diagram and draw air through the tongue.
Hold the breath for a few seconds, uncurl the tongue and move it back into the mouth.
Exhale through the nostrils and move the chin down.
Do this exercise six times and gradually increase to twelve times over time. The more practice you get in, the more ingrained this exercise will imprint on your brain. After it has become a habit, it will be an automatic response to fear once you get used to it. The YouTube video “Healing Through Yoga: Releasing Fear and Anxiety” by Jasmine Kaloudes, shows how the stomach and abdomen look when you breathe from the diaphragm. It shows how the diaphragm moves out and in when you breathe correctly.
These breathing exercises take concentration and that helps in relieving fear. It gives your brain something else to think about other than the fear.
Another exercise where concentration is involved is the tense exercise. When fear strikes your muscles tend to involuntarily tense. In the tense exercise, you tense your muscles to get them tied into knots as if you were in a fear situation. Then you learn to gradually relax those muscles, which also takes some concentration and distracts the brain from fear itself.
Lie down flat on the floor or on the bed.
Breathe in deeply, using the diaphragm and hold your breath.
Purposely tense the muscles in your head, neck and shoulders and count to ten.
Let the breath out slowly and force the muscles in the neck and shoulders to relax gradually starting at the neck and going to the upper arms.
Do the same with the arms and hands. Then relax from the upper arm down to the tips of the fingers.
Proceed with the tensing exercise to the trunk of the body starting at the chest and back down, working toward the hips. Pay special attention to the stomach.
Continue from the hips and buttocks down to your toes.
Do the breathing and tensing exercises once a day and when fear takes hold, begin to do them immediately. The breathing and tensing should stop the fear induced raised heart rate and muscle tensing and allow you to move the fear from the fight or flight lizard brain to the upper parts of the brain where it can be recognized as irrational. Learn how to stop anxiety and fear in all kinds of situations, from human encounters to being stuck in an elevator. The techniques in the YouTube video, How to Calm Down in 10 Seconds (Fast Relaxation Trick to Stop Anxiety and Stress) by ALifeLessAnxious includes a great example of the breathing and tensing exercises. If you can’t seem to automatically start the breathing exercises, keep a regular, large sized blow up balloon in your pocket. When panic starts, take it out and blow it up. This will automatically stop swift breathing and can help alleviate the panic symptoms.
Utilize breathing and tensing techniques whenever fear takes hold. An example would be for those afraid of confined areas. Maybe you need to have an MRI. Even open MRI machines can send a person screaming into the night. You lie between two hard surfaces and the top one is almost on top of you. You can’t sit up, you can’t turn and you can’t escape. My brother does not like confined spaces and when encountering his first MRI, he just couldn’t do it. He cried, hyperventilated and both the technician and he gave up. It didn’t matter that it was safe, the fear was completely irrational. He was more prepared the second time around after learning the breathing and tensing techniques. He asked for a fan to blow air onto his face so it didn’t feel like he was suffocating. After being inserted into the open MRI, he closed his eyes and asked them to wait a moment while he did the breathing and tensing exercises. After a few minutes he was calm and was able to get the procedure done.
Simply doing something physical like pushups, sit ups, or jumping jacks can also stop fear from setting in. While you are doing them, count to occupy the brain. Another good idea is to burn energy constructively by exercising or cleaning the house. The University of Georgia performed a study that analyzed 40 clinical trials associated with medical and mental conditions. The study found that patients who participated in regular exercise sessions reduced the anxiety they had by about 20 percent. These patients had fewer symptoms of worry and fear than those that did not exercise. They also found that those that exercised regularly 30 minutes or more per day were much more adept at reducing fear and anxiety by themselves. Physical exercise can help many people with overcoming fear.
Exercise releases endorphins, which are hormones that make you feel good. Regular exercises releases these hormones regularly and results in making you feel you can take on the world, and your fear. If you would like to know more about this, be sure to check out my bestselling book: Ultimate Health Secrets.