This being my last editorial, I would like to say goodbye with a practical exercise. Find more of these exercises at WITHSTO.com.
The soothing rhythm of the breath.
It is an effective way to reduce stress or anxiety and increase calm, peacefulness, and safety. When you are anxious you tend to take fast, shallow breaths from the chest and consequently you inhale too much oxygen. You become light-headed, possibly even dizzy, and as a result, you feel more anxious. The soothing rhythm of the breath helps you to turn off your stress reaction and switches on your relaxation response. It is most important that you find your style and your rhythm of breathing that feels most soothing and calming.
Now let us get started:
1) Find a place where you are going to be undisturbed for the next 10-minutes.
2) Observe your breathing, the natural rhythm of your breath.
3) Breathe slowly, deeply and evenly, in and out through your nose or mouth. Put your hands on your belly. When you breathe deeply, you will feel your stomach rising on the in-breath and falling on the out-breath. The movement might be tiny – that is perfectly ok. Remember that breathing slowly and deeply is the most important thing.
4) Now, change the rhythm of the breath. Breathing in to the count of two, breathing out to the count of two? Notice whether you find this rhythm smoothing.
5) Then change the rhythm of the breath again. Breathing in to the count of three, breathing out to the count of three? Notice whether you find this rhythm smoothing. Is it more or less soothing than counting to two?
6) Finally, change the rhythm of the breath. Breathing in to the count of four, breathing out to the count of four? Notice whether you find this rhythm smoothing. Is it more or less soothing than counting to two or three?
7) In your own time, return to your own rhythm and notice which length of breath was most soothing for you.
Remember the count and come back to your personal soothing breathing rhythm whenever you feel anxious.
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“My therapy is pragmatic, skilled and effective in delivering sustainable change. I believe therapy is only worthwhile when it makes a long-lasting change for the better.”
Dr Ute Liersch, BSc, MA