This is not a literary essay. On the contrary is a medical, rather psychological, study. Sure, this is useful for all; especially we writers. Writers are a class who are always squashed by inherent feelings. Anxiety is their birth-mate. This is my own experience too as a writer. How to tackle the situation? One easy& effective method is by taming our breath. Rishi called the technique “pranayama”. Of course we are grateful to the great ancient Indian wisdom. Here let us analyze the view of modern medical science.
Physiology of breathing& its significance
Breathing is a powerful determinant of physical state. When our breathing rate gets elevated, a number of physiological changes begin to occur. You would have noticed this yourself when you have had fright; you might suddenly gasp, feel a little breathless and a little light-headed, as well as some tingling sensations around your body. Truly, the way we breathe is a major factor in generating these & other sensations that are seen when we are anxious.
We all know that we breathe in oxygen& breathe out carbon dioxide. This process together we call respiration. Also we know this is essential for life. The inhaling of oxygen& exhaling of carbon dioxide should be in a balance for the proper functioning of our body. This balance is being maintained through how fast and how deeply we breathe. Of course, this is determined by our activity. But always the balance between the inhaled oxygen and exhaled carbon dioxide is maintained.
When we are anxious, this balance is disrupted. Essentially, we take in more oxygen than the body needs- hyperventilation the doctors call it- in other words we over-breathe. When this imbalance is detected, the body responds with a number of chemical changes that produce symptoms such as dizziness, light-headedness, confusion, breathlessness, blurred vision, and increase in heart rate to pump blood more around.
-Also numbness and tingling in the extremities, cold clammy hands and muscle stiffness.
The normal rate of breathing is 10-12 breaths/minute. (What is your breathing rate?)
Over-breathing and hyperventilation are not specifically dangerous. But continued
over-breathing can leave you feeling exhausted or “on edge” so that you are more likely to respond to stressful situations with intense anxiety and panic.(Please just try!)
Gaining control over your breathing involves both slowing your rate of breathing and changing your breathing style. Use calming technique by following these steps and you will be on your way to developing a better breathing habit.
- Ensure that you are sitting on a comfortable chair or laying on a bed
- Take a breath in for 4 seconds(preferably through nose)
- Hold breath for 2 seconds
- Release the breath taking 6 seconds (preferably through nose); then pause slightly before breathing in again.
- Practise, practise, practise!
- When you first begin changing your breathing, it may be difficult to slow your breathing down to this rate. You may wish to try using a 3-in,1-hold,4-out breathing rate to start with.
- When you are doing your breathing exercises, make sure that you are using a stomach breathing style rather than a chest breathing style. You can test this by placing one hand on your stomach and the other hand on your chest. The hand on your stomach should rise when you breathe in.
- Try to practise at least once or twice a day at a time when you can relax, relatively free from distraction. This will help to develop a more relaxed breathing habit. The key to progress really is practise, so try to set aside some time each day.
By using the calming technique, you can slow your breathing down and reduce your general level anxiety. With enough practice, it can even help to reduce your anxiety when you are in an anxious situation.