Nip it in the Bud – Mindful Breathing

The Unexpected Rush of Anxiety

Finding Quiet during Anxiety

When I finally got it threw my thick head that I could control that unexpected rush of anxiety that came with unforeseeable negative events, I started breaking down the steps of exactly how that was going to work. I say “steps” because I realized that, in the enormity of knowledge, understanding, techniques, and trying to keep from getting even more overwhelmed than my anxiety disorder kept me in –  I needed to begin with a simple step, breathing. My brain logically informed me that while I was stressing out daily on 19,156 million issues stirring around in my inadequate parasympathetic nervous system, anything new that sprang up during the always tolling daily activities, I needed to “nip it in the bud” as Barney Fife would say – yep I needed to practice “bud nipping”.

A Calming Breathing Technique

Bud nipping would have to involve putting a halt on that unpredictable, fast swooping anxiety rush when a not so favorable outcome appeared during my usual anxious day. I thought back on different techniques I purchased, researched or fell upon. I identified several examples and took the best parts from each one that worked for me in the past. The anxiety bud nipping tool that was born from this exercise was mindful breathing during a brief visualization technique.

Here are the mindful breathing steps:

  1. Find a quiet place if you can, sitting in a chair, feet firmly on the floor. If you are unable to physically find a quiet place, the second-best thing is to just get quiet and turn inward focusing on the inside of your body. If possible, put your hands on your thighs palms up either fingers slightly spread or with your thumb and middle fingers touching each other.
  2. Close your eyes and consciously relax your shoulders and neck. If you are say, in a meeting and cannot close your eyes, focus mindfully on what you are doing inside your body. Take a deep breath, through your mouth, filling up your whole diaphragm, hold and count to four.
  3. SLOWLY let your breath out through your nose counting BACKWARDS from 10 to zero. As you breath out, visualize the anxiety that fills your body as a yucky disgusting glob of ugly red. Watch the ugly anxiety glob leave your body through your toes. You first feel your head become a clear nature green or ocean blue, whichever visualization works best for you. As you continue, feel the beautiful calming color fill your face, your arms, your chest, your hips, your thighs, your calves and finally your feet. If you run out of air before you get to zero, just keep on counting backwards to zero breathing slowly. Don’t stop until you get to zero, not the number “one” but the number “zero”. Zero signifies you have zero fight response left in your body and you can open your eyes and deal with the not so favorable outcome just delivered to you.

When you practice mindful breathing, your parasympathetic nervous system reminds your body that the “threat” is over and your “fight or flight” reaction subsides. Remember – Nip it in the Bud. Many years, my friend, many years.