Trying to hide from difficult moments in life often creates tension in the mind and body. Depending on the individual, it can mean different things, from going through stressful moments to social withdrawal and feeling vulnerable. Moreover, a person I was coaching on Peace Revolution self-development program shared having experienced even panic attacks, this making him feel stuck in life. How to cope with situations that leave us shattered? How to care for our mental health?
While doing some research on this, I realized that the key to one’s mental health is the simple fact of finding the feeling of calm, peace of mind and developing and sticking to rituals that make these available. To calm the mind, one can try:
- breathing techniques
- muscle relaxation
- guided imagery
- active focus
- you can be completely absorbed in an interest or hobby
- you can use music
Breathe and relax
Breathing is a whole process. It’s one of the few things that we do automatically, yet it can also be under our voluntary control. We breathe in and out all day, every day, regardless of what else we’re doing, what we’re thinking. On a closer look, our breathing changes throughout the day. The more relaxed you are, the deeper and slower the breath is. When stressed, the breath is short, fast and shallow.
At the same time we can control our breath. If we want to relax, we can decide to breathe in a specific way and relax in the process. The breath is connected to our body and mind, and how it works is connected to our autonomic nervous system. When you learn to control the breath, you are also in control of your stress and relaxation response by adapting your breathing. It’s simple: when people breathe out longer than they breathe in, it increases relaxation. When you breathe in longer than you breathe out, you become more stressed.
Out-breaths longer than in-breaths
When people are having panic attacks, they unconsciously start having deeper inhalations and short, sharp exhalations. If you went through a panic attack or were close to one, you know how this feels.
To prevent or change this, you want out-breaths to be longer than in-breaths. You also want to breathe from deep down your lungs and feel your stomach filling up with air. Another trick is to count and make sure your out-breath is longer than the in-breath. The good thing about it being a breathing technique is that one can practice this many times every day till it feels comfortable and becomes an automatic response that kicks in when needed.
You can practice it every hour if you wanted to and no one would even notice. Know that before you even start feeling stressed, you can trigger relaxation within you. Pay a close look at what is going on in your life and know there are simple yet effective ways to care for your mental health and well-being. Start today, you’re worth it!
Photo credits: Benjamin Davis@unsplash