Traumatic events may knock the wind out of you; take your breath away.
After trauma, living a breathless life may become a habit.
When shallow breathing or holding your breath becomes a habit, your oxygen levels decrease until billions of cells in your body scream,
Distressed cells trigger alarms. Your body releases chemicals that make you feel tense, anxious, vigilant, tingly. Now, even when you’re typing, cooking, driving, you’re juiced up and prepared to fight or flee – just because you held your breath!
Stop to Breathe!
Catch our breath before you continue with your activity.
With your breathing restored, you shift from the “fight or flight” nervous system into the “rest and digest” nervous system. If anxiety and/or
tingling persists, breathe out longer than you breathe in. For example:
- breathe in to a count of 1
- count 2 as you breathe out
- progressively lengthen your exhales: count 3; count 4.
- Continue until your breathing feels fuller and more comfortable.
- Notice the places where it’s easy to breathe.
- Notice the places that resist a fuller breath – without judging.
- When your thoughts wander or your attention is distracted;
- just notice & return to observing your breath.
- At the end of 5 minutes, notice what has changed.
Even 5 minutes a day will help you develop an early warning system that alerts you when you shift to breath-holding, shallow or rapid breathing.