When we are in a heightened state of stress or high anxiety, our central nervous system goes into overdrive, causing physical symptoms such as sweaty palms, a racing heart, or shallow, labored breathing. Often times, we fail to recognize the combined power of the human body and mind, instead considering them as two separate entities.
Holistic treatments such as meditation and yoga provide an outlet for those recovering from addiction to focus on strengthening that mind-body connection. These treatments can also reduce stress and anxiety, and improve overall well-being.
If you find that your body is in a heightened physical state caused by anxiety, deep breathing can calm the body so that the mind can follow and inner peace can be achieved. In fact, connecting the mind and the body through deep breathing is one of the most beneficial ways to alleviate anxiety and bring peace to the present moment.
Remember, this may feel silly or unnatural until you become used to the difference between deep breathing and regular breathing.
Steps to deep breathing
- Close your eyes
- Sit with both feet touching the ground and your shoulders back, or lie down if it feels more comfortable.
- Place one palm on your chest and the other palm on your stomach. When you inhale, you should feel your stomach pushing against your hand. When you exhale, your stomach should go back in towards your spine.
- Inhale for a count of 3, hold the breath for a count of 2, and exhale for a count of 4.
- Repeat as often as necessary (this may be for 5 minutes, 30 minutes, or whatever feels right for you.)
You may want to count in your head and focus on each number as this often prevents negative thoughts from entering the mind. However, if a stressful thought does break through, simply acknowledge it and then quickly let it go by refocusing on your breathing.
Remember: deep breathing is a skill, so try not to get discouraged if you feel it isn’t working right away. Be patient with yourself.
Silvermist makes holistic treatments available to those clients who express an interest. Common holistic therapies include acupuncture, massage therapy, yoga, reflexology, and more.
Contributed by Jodi Jaspan, MS, LPC, National Representative at Silvermist