Breathing seems like a really simple thing. I mean, my body does it automatically without me thinking about it, right?
Sometimes, when I’m super anxious or upset, it’s like I completely forget how to breathe correctly and it can feel like I’m not breathing at all.
From someone who took voice lessons for a decade, it’s pretty ridiculous that I forget how to breathe since I swear that was the first two years of voice.
Anyway, it’s important for me to remember to breathe the way my voice instructors taught- breathing from my diaphragm and “pulling” the air through with my stomach muscles, rather than having my shoulders rise when I breathe.
This allows the rib cage to fully open and for me to get the most air.
When I’m panicking especially, I’m usually taking short little breaths and not feeding my brain enough oxygen to help regulate what’s going on.
This is why breathing is such an important, and luckily basic, skill.
Unfortunately, it seems that I don’t always remember to breathe when I’m in the middle of a panic attack, or even when I’m highly dysregulated.
Sometimes I do, and when I do it helps immeasurably.
It’s so helpful in fact, I’ve been tempted in the past to get a little puff of air tattooed on my wrist. I’m honestly too chicken for tattoos just yet, (although probably one of these days…), but I thought it would be a good reminder.
Remembering to breathe is so important.
It doesn’t require any tools, it can be done anywhere, and it doesn’t really get noticed by anyone.
For those reasons it’s my favorite skill.
There are all kinds of different “ways to breathe” as a skill.
Some people like to breathe in “box counts” where they breathe in and count to a number (usually six or so), hold the breath for that number, breathe out for that number, hold their breath for that number and repeat.
Some people use 4-7-8 which is breathing in through the nose for four seconds, holding it for seven seconds and blowing it out through the mouth slowly for eight seconds. This one is backed by some science as being effective. I like this one personally.
Really, counting and breathing is better than not counting and rapid breathing so it’s a good place to start. Incorporating one or more of these methods as it becomes comfortable makes sense.
I wanted to write this post because I don’t always do these things myself and I think it’s an important reminder to me and anyone who reads this to just breathe.
Image from Pexels.