I don’t know what I have been fighting all those years: Adrenal insufficiency or the excessive stress and panic attacks that were hitting me out of the blue like a surging wave. There is a point that the two conditions are becoming one and the line that separates them becomes blur and you don’t know which caused which. Is it the anxiety that fatigues your adrenals or is it vice versa?Suddenly more organs are involved and you have irritable bowel syndrome and generalized fatigue and heart palpitations and breathing becomes shallow and your chest feels like a truck is sitting on it and you end up in the ER certain that you are having a heart attack when they release you telling you that everything is fine and not to worry too much.
I adopted breathing techniques in the 90s. I had already discovered that rhythmical breaths were calming down my anxiety when I met a therapist who helped me understand the philosophy behind the techniques. It is not about controlling the stress levels only,it is a whole new mindset that helps you control your entire life.
For example you have an argument with a colleague at work that stressed you. It is not about the argument or the colleague in question. It is about how you perceived both the argument and the colleague.
It took me a decade to understand that breathing techniques teach you how to control the factors of the environment you live in.
So,let’s move on to the four breathing practices that I have found as the most helpful as far as I am concerned. If you would like to add the technique that has been working for you please feel free to use the comment section.
Or as it known commonly,belly breathing
You can practice belly breathing anywhere you like once you’ve become familiar with the technique. Last year,that I suffered severe panic attacks,I practiced belly breathing eve n in the bus. Just make sure that you wear comfortable clothes so that the circulation is not interrupted.
Either you place your hands on your chest or on your belly the effects will be the same. Belly breathing works because it increases the amount of oxygen in the blood stream which interrupts the flight or fight state and so the body returns to normality.
Inhale deeply from the nose and count to ten. Make sure you breathe with the abdomen. Exhale from the mouth.Use the diaphragm to both inhale and exhale.
It might sound a bit difficult in the beginning but when you will advance your technique you will be able to practice diaphragmatic breathing even in a cafe.
I have been a fan of this exercise before even Internet was invented. I am not a yoga guru nor a Reiki master but I have suffered from anxiety for long enough to develop similar techniques. Counting the breaths has worked effectively for me for decades . Do not wait until the signs of flight or fight response show up and your breath becomes shallow or your chest muscles tighten and you think you are having a heart attack. Even though it is not late to start counting in full blown panic attack,it will be harder to relax than if you start before the symptoms show.
Speaking for myself,I start counting as soon as I feel a punch in my stomach and my heart fluttering. That is how I perceive a panic attack is just around the corner.
Repeat a positive thought
Which reminds or derives from Emotional Freedom Technique.Either way,it is still very effective if you find yourself in public and you feel embarrassed to start tapping and having to deal with curious glances aimed at you. Totally understandable. I don’t tap in public either mostly because I am totally unable to focus.Repeating an affirmation release positive feelings which combat excessive stress .
Alternative nostril breathing
I practice this breathing technique before bed to slow down cortisol levels that are bound to raise by 1-2 am. The more relaxed I am the less cortisol will be released in my bloodstream and the less insomnia and anxiety I will be experiencing during the night time allowing my adrenals some room to heal. So I sit in a meditation position and,If I am unable to,I can practice laying in my bed. I close the left nostril with the right thumb and I inhale slowly. Then I close the right nostril with my left thumb and I exhale.
Alternatively,you can use a metronome if it helps you keeping the rhythm of your breathing.
And a breathing technique for the morning drag-feet and cortisol lows :
Inhale from the nose slowly and then use your lower belly muscles to exhale with power. As soon as you are familiar with this breathing exercise you will be practicing it easier. The goal is to inhale-exhale every second,or every two if you don’t feel comfortable with the exercise yet,and to practice 15 breaths in the morning.