“Anxiety is practicing failure in advance. Anxiety is needless and imaginary. It’s fear about fear, fear that means nothing.”
“Anxiety I will transform you into something useful and productive. I will not bow down to you.” Jaeda Dewalt
I believe one of the greatest skills we can learn to help ourselves through anxiety–whether it’s mild or severe; even anxiety in the form of panic attacks–is to learn to BREATHE. It’s simple, so simple that it feels as though it’s just not a viable solution…but that one act, that of BREATHING, slowly and deeply…can diminish our anxiety to a manageable level, prevent a “panic attack” from escalating to a total freak-out, and give us a chance to grab onto our Mindfulness skills. We teach these techniques in DBT.
So…try it when you notice anxiety building inside you…there are many great programs out there, but one that is quite simple (which does *not* mean that it is easy) is to COUNT slowly in your mind while you breathe…Inhale to the count of 1…2…3…then exhale in the same way…1…2…3…and if you can, make your inhalation a count longer than your inhalation 1…2…3…*4*…. This accomplishes several things: at the very least it will physiologically PREVENT severe anxiety from turning into a full blown panic attack; it gives you an opportunity to turn your mind to focus MINDFULLY on just one thing–your breath. If your focus is only on your breath, the anxiety you’re feeling can recede, just a little, or a lot.
There are many more techniques that help in managing and decreasing anxiety in addition to this practice of “Mindfulness of the Breath” in our DBT program. Life is too short to lose the wonder and richness in our present because of the anxiety we experience about the past, the present, or the future. As many wise souls have noted, we cannot change the past or control the future, but we *can* manage this present moment–as skillfully and joyfully as we can…I hope you enjoy this beautiful early summer weather over the weekend!