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Just Breathe- Tips to Calm Anxiety
Have you ever felt like something was wrong but you just couldn’t put your finger on it? That was me after having babykins. Life seemed to take a twist, turn, and back flip that I hadn’t prepared for and I found myself months later down the road realizing that I had been suffering from postpartum anxiety. The nurses and doctors do a great job of talking about postpartum depression but never once did I hear about it being linked with anxiety. It wasn’t until I was visiting a friend that worked at a family community resource center that I learned those words, nine months later. Nine months I walked around suffering with something that could have been treated months earlier if I would have known. It was so bad, but I couldn’t just turn it off and I didn’t know the answer could be something so simple. Something as simple as breathing and turning off my mind. Keep reading to know what I mean on how to just breathe and tips to calm anxiety!
Sometimes when you don’t know what’s wrong you take matters into your own hands
When I couldn’t figure out why I couldn’t go to the store for groceries without having a full fledged on panic attack or had to keep my house immaculately clean I reached out for some help. I went to a naturopath who I had worked with for many years off and on. She had become a good family friend and someone I could rely on when things just felt out of control. I started taking herbs and for the most part that curbed the total full fledged panic attacks and the need to have an immaculate house. But I truly didn’t feel completely normal again and I thought it was just something I would have to live with.
But as Big Girl disclosed her trauma and we went to get counseling for both her and I we learned some valuable ways to breathe and start to take control of how we felt. It was empowering to say the least.
So whether you are suffering from postpartum anxiety or anxiety related to trauma try these simple things
Before, I go on and share what has worked for our family I want to be very clear that the information shared here should NEVER replace that given by a doctor or professional. I know you want to be happy and healthy and I want that for you too! So please ensure that you are taking the steps to get the proper care you may need.
Did you know it is your brain that controls your whole body and nervous system? That means any tummy troubles or health problems stem from our thinking. No it is not a switch that you can turn off and on, or treat it like a order of fries at McDonalds. You can’t turn off your Chron’s or your gluten intolerance, or your IBS (irritable bowel syndrome). But you can, calm your thinking so you don’t have those stress flare ups! So here’s the deal. You know in high school when you learned about the fight or flight response? Yeah, me too! So what happens is the Amygdala (which are these two little almond sized friends in your brain) that tell your body whether it needs to fight, put up flight, or freeze. Now, these amazing little buddies don’t know past or present so if something triggers a memory or response it tells your body to fight, flight, or freeze.
Are you following so far? Okay! Great! When we know that the Amygdala is responsible for those feelings and stirring up those bouts of anxiety we can do a couple of things.
The first one is to breathe. Breathe in with me for 1, 2, 3, 4, 5. And out through your mouth for 5, 4, 3, 2, 1. Do you notice your body start to relax and feel like jelly? Probably!! But did you notice that your brain became more calm and alert?! Breathing is not just a necessity but it is also so healthy for your body and mind!! You may want to stop here and just breathe a couple of times before reading on because truly it is like the best gift you can give yourself as a frazzled or busy mom. Just breathe. Go on, i’ll wait!! I’ll even be right here when you get back. Close those eyes and just focus on breathing through your nose and out through your mouth!
There now, don’t you feel better?
When it was explained to me that the amygdala is responsible for making us feel anxiety I felt empowered because I realized that I truly had the power to shut off those feelings. This next practice shared is amazingly simple and can be done anywhere. I can’t remember the professional term for it! I wish I did but what matters is using it! So what you want to do is when you feel those bouts of anxiety creeping up and taking over you want to calm your dear Amygdala down by focusing on the here and now. So you want to look in the room around you and start to label things. I bought that night light for my daughter off the buy and sell with her cribbing set. That planter came from IKEA, man I love that store! Those flowers were made by my mom. I painted the jar to put pens in. As you start doing that your Amygdala will shut down temporarily and allow calm to set in. Want to try it? Awesome. So start focusing on the things around you. If it helps you c
an even touch them as you are thinking about it. Okay, go on. I’ll wait!
Isn’t that such a fun exercise? What I found is that when my anxiety would start creeping in that being able to have the tools to shut off my Amygdala temporarily and rein in those feelings I was able to feel calm and peaceful. I was told that this can be used for when you wake up from a nightmare, when you are shopping in the mall and smell a whiff of your ex’s cologne, or have a memory or flashback to something that happened.
You just need to stop and breathe.
Give yourself the gift to stop. I really mean it. Totally stop. Stop moving. Stop yelling (in my case these days because no one likes a mom yeller) Take a breath and breathe a couple of times. In through the nose and out through the mouth. Then temporarily shut off your amygdala by focusing on the here and now literally. When you do this you will be able to start to gain more control over your amygdala and find ways to soothe and calm your body. So the next time you feel stressed or anxious, just stop! There now a fun new tool for your parenting tool belt. You’re welcome!
Because oh puh-lease!! You’ve got this momma!!