The fastest land mammal on earth is a Cheetah – they can go from 0-60mph in only 3 seconds but can only sustain that speed for a short period of time.
Why do I mention this? Well, anxiety in our lives is a bit like a cheetah. A short, sharp burst of stress is good – when you have a deadline, or to escape a dangerous situation, however our bodies and minds aren’t meant to be in a constant state of alert.
Anxiety levels among the general population of the UK are on the rise, In the first study to be completed wholly after the government implemented its ‘Stay at Home’ measures, the ONS reported that just over half of adults (53.1%) said the pandemic was affecting their well-being, while nearly half (46.9%) reported high levels of anxiety. The fear of uncertainty, not knowing what will happen next is difficult for us, as human beings to cope with! We like repetition – repetition is safe, it’s easier (it takes less energy than doing something new) and we like to know what to expect.
So what can we do at the moment to help calm down? Here are a few ideas…
· Be kind to yourself – it is an unusual time at the moment! Take care of yourself by doing things you enjoy and making time to look after yourself.
· Set up a routine –Routines are great for giving us a sense of purpose and achievement. If you’re working from home, make sure you set time to give yourself a lunchbreak and days off during the working week. If you’re not working, set up a routine where you can indulge in your hobbies, or take up a new one! You might also like to try doing an online course (but again make sure you structure your study time) – the Open University has some wonderful free courses you can try (http://www.open.ac.uk/about/open-educational-resources/openlearn/free-learning)
· Exercise! Physical hobbies are great for giving us a boost of endorphins, but even if you are not a marathon runner, or a jogger, get out for a walk!
· Get out of your head by getting outside! Go for a walk, look around you... can you find any conkers? What is the most beautiful leaf you can find? Look for the small things that will make you smile!
· How about trying some breathing exercises? By changing the way we breathe for a short time we can feel calmer (Some ideas below!)
· If you are really struggling then having someone to talk to can be really helpful. If you are worried about your mental health then C.A.L.L (Community Advice & Listening Line) can help, you can call them on: 0800 132 737 or text: 81066, Or call the Samaritans : 116 123.
You can get through this and you will, but there’s no need to suffer alone. If you would like to improve your mental health and wellbeing then speaking to someone longer term can be really beneficial. At BCS we have a team of counsellors and hypnotherapists who can help. We work online over Zoom with people from around the world, or in person (with all suitable Covid precautions in place) from our offices in Barry, South Wales.
You can contact us by:
Phone: 01446 677600
Breathing exercises can help us to feel calmer as they stimulate the Vagus Nerve which runs through our body and connects with all our major organs. When stimulated in the right way it puts us in to our rest and digest mode – a relaxed state.
Don’t do these breathing exercises for too long, a few minutes is enough, and if you start to feel light-headed, stop for a few minutes and just breathe normally.
1.) This calming breathing technique for stress, anxiety and panic takes just a few minutes and can be done anywhere.
You will get the most benefit if you do it regularly, as part of your daily routine.
You can do it standing up, sitting in a chair that supports your back, or lying on a bed or yoga mat on the floor.
Make yourself as comfortable as you can. If you can, loosen any clothes that restrict your breathing.
If you are lying down, place your arms a little bit away from your sides, with the palms up. Let your legs be straight or bend your knees so your feet are flat on the floor.
If you are sitting, place your arms on the chair arms.
If you are sitting or standing, place both feet flat on the ground. Whatever position you're in, place your feet roughly hip-width apart.
· Let your breath flow as deep down into your belly as is comfortable, without forcing it.
· Try breathing in through your nose and out through your mouth.
· Breathe in gently and regularly. Some people find it helpful to count steadily from 1 to 5. You may not be able to reach 5 at first.
· Then, without pausing or holding your breath, let it flow out gently, counting from 1 to 5 again, if you find this helpful.
· Keep doing this for 3 to 5 minutes.
2 .) Rectangular breathing
This is one of my favourites as you can do it anywhere! All you need is a rectangle – a door a window, your computer screen, etc!
· Starting on the short edge you breathe in along the short edge, hold the breath for a moment at the corner, then breathe out along the long edge, so your out breath is longer than your in breath. Keep the pace steady and smooth and remember to breath all the way in to your tummy, keeping your shoulders relaxed.
· You can follow the rectangle with your finger or just with your eyes.
· You need to keep the same pace around the rectangle with a slight pause at each of the corners.
3.) Ujjayi breathing
Ujjayi breath (ooo-jai) is also known as the victorious breath. It’s used in Yoga and can be really calming, though it can take a bit of practice! Ujjayi breath promotes mental clarity helping to lessen the negative effects of anxious thinking. Because you make a noise, this is best done when you’re alone, or let anyone around you know you’ll be doing it before you begin!
· Take a deep breath, then open the mouth.
· As you exhale, imagine you are fogging up a mirror feeling your throat slightly contract and allowing there to be a noise from the mouth.
· As you inhale through the mouth, try and make the same sound. Do this a few times to get used to the feeling in the throat and the sound.
· Once you're feeling confident, close the mouth and breathe through the nostrils still making the sound in the back of the throat.
· It should sound like the waves of the ocean. Listen to the calming sound as you practise this for a few minutes.
 https://www.anxietyuk.org.uk/blog/anxiety-uk-call-for-joined-up-action-to-tackle-covid-19-well-being-and-support-for-those-with-anxiety-and-anxiety-disorders-following-ons-survey/ (20/10/20)  https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/stress-anxiety-depression/ways-relieve-stress/