The body and mind are linked! Who’d have thought?
We’ve all experienced physical symptoms when anxious or stressed… symptoms like rapid shallow breathing, quickened pulse, sweaty clammy hands, queasy guts… and so on.
Many of these symptoms are related to our body’s “fight or flight” response, a survival mechanism wired into us by millions of years of evolution. It works like this: if a tiger jumps out at you your brain (a bit called the “amygdala” for anybody into tongue twisting Latin) signals the body with a shot of adrenal hormones (cortisol). This message tells your body to get ready for immediate action, causing your heart to beat faster (more blood flow), your breathing rate to increase (more oxygen); sweating (to cool your supercharged body and brain) and so on. All of this happens essentially automatically in response to what your brain interprets as a dangerous threat.
(As an aside to this, I have asked a respected psychologist what could possibly be the survival benefit of anxiety inducing a desire to unload your bowel — one symptom experienced by some. Surely if a tiger is chasing you then stopping for a dump is the last thing you should be doing! His sage response was that possibly there was some benefit in creating a diversion to cover your tracks! But I digress…)
A certain level of anxiety can be beneficial in quickening your responses and performance. Anxiety and/or stress above that optimum level, or over an extended time, can have significant disadvantages. Sometimes the level of the anxiety far outweighs the rational reasons for it, in which case the physical and emotional responses to that anxiety is not of benefit.
Flying on an airliner is, of course, one of these times. A rational look at airline safety statistics shows flying to be extraordinarily safe, yet for some people flying causes huge anxiety. And it isn’t useful anxiety — the elevated anxiety you may feel on a plane (or in any other stressful environment… a job interview, an exam, a first date… whatever) is not going to make you safer, quicker, smarter or more attractive than you already are!
But there is some good news…
NEWS FLASH!!! The link between mind and body is reversible. If we can control the physical symptoms of anxiety then we can control or reduce that anxiety.
Why would this be so? Well, one of the things the brain does in order to accelerate it’s own responses is to seek confirmation of danger from various sources… for example, the sights, sounds and smells around you. It also notices your own body’s response and uses those symptoms as proof that there is something to be scared about! (We talk about that in the Dragons of Thin Air book as a positive feedback that can, if not controlled, cause anxiety and stress to spiral out of control… the “Tension Tornado”).
The practical upshot of that is that if you can reduce the symptoms of anxiety and stress then you will reduce the danger signals that your brain is interpreting; This, in turn, leads to actual calm (or at least a reduction in anxiety and stress). Act calm and your body will tend towards calm! Go figure!
One of the simplest and most effective symptoms we can control is our breathing. Rather than the shallow breathing that most of us do regularly (and particularly in times of anxiety or stress), deep slow abdominal breathing has been found to be most effective. It really is a kind of magic that you can simply prove to yourself with minimal effort. Used regularly and at times of elevated stress or anxiety, deep breathing can and does help people to remain calm, control their emotions, and operate at peak performance.
So impressed are we by the effectiveness and simplicity of deep breathing techniques we looked around for a really good breathing training tool… one that would teach a range of breathing techniques, provide a nice relaxing pacer to help with timing, and be generally nice and satisfying to use. Nothing we found really met these requirements — so we created our own!
BreatheX is an innovative App for your phone or mobile gizmo. In it you’ll find a wide range of breathing exercises that have been found to be helpful — Some suggested by psychologists, others drawn from Yoga and Hindu traditions.
The app effortlessly guides you through deep breathing techniques and exercises, teaching you the routines and then guiding your inhale-exhale timing with a soothing pacer that visually represents the slow rise and fall of your diaphragm. It is relaxing to a surprising level that you will really only appreciate by trying it out.
Included in this free app is a great tutorial on how to do abdominal deep breathing (the most natural and relaxing form of breathing) and some basic exercises for you to try, giving you a no-risk chance to try BreatheX for yourself at no cost. You don’t have to take my word for it… give it a go!
These included exercises may be all you ever need, but if you want to unlock the full potential of the app an extensive range of additional exercises can be added for a small fee. These additions turn BreatheX into a comprehensive deep breathing trainer and pacer for relaxation, anxiety & stress control, thought stopping, energisation, wellness and life. Doesn’t that sound good?
For more information about the BreatheX app visit us at the Skyrocket Cafe website or, better yet, simply install the free BreatheX app on your mobile gizmo and see what it can do!
FREE: INSTALL BREATHEX NOW AND TRY IT OUT…
Tags: breathex, breathing app, breathing exercises, deep breathing