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  • Dr. Stuart Wellness

Calm Your Anxiety Naturally

Updated: Jan 31, 2019

Who hasn’t had an anxious moment or felt nervous? Anxiety and feelings of uneasiness affect us all at some point during our lives. Yet some of us cope with these feelings better than others. Some of us in fact don’t cope with these emotions at all. Anxiety disorders, according to WHO (The World Health Organization) affect one in thirteen people globally. The use of anti- anxiety medications is also reportedly on the rise. There is nothing wrong with using anti-anxiety medication properly. This article however looks at some natural ways we can calm ourselves and includes a simple breath control (pranayama) sequence to calm body and mind.


Anxiety Solutions: Quick Tips

· Talk a short walk- psychologists studying how exercise relieves anxiety and depression have found that a 10-minute walk may be helpful to relieve the effects of anxiety and depression.

· Soak in a Warm Bath- A growing body of research is finding that baths can help with depression and anxiety by improving breath capacity and relaxing sore muscles.

· Listen to Your Favourite Music- Researchers at Stanford University found that listening to music may change brain functioning to the same extent as medication. Other research has also shown that casual music-making can short-circuit the stress response system and keep it from recurring or becoming chronic.

· Yoga- It doesn’t matter the type. Several publications including Harvard Health, have published articles discussing how yoga may be helpful for anxiety.


THE SEQUENCE



These pranayama exercises can be practiced alone or in order. Don’t worry about doing it right. What is important is that you practice, so that some relaxation can be achieved.


1. Sips of Breath

This breathing exercise is a great one to start with when you are highly anxious. Our breathing changes when we are anxious. We sometimes hold our breath, or breath quick, short and swallow breaths. Sit or lie comfortably, either in a chair, on the floor or even in bed. Allow yourself to take sips of breath. You can take a sip of breath and then release it, or you can take a sip of breath and hold it for a couple of seconds before releasing it. It doesn’t matter which variation you try, what is important is that you focus on the breath. When you are ready try taking 3 sips of in breath, then exhale through the mouth with a soft ‘ahh’ sound. You can also exhale with the mouth closed. Try to practice from 1 to 3 mins


2. Ujjayi Breath- belly version



Also known as the ocean sounding breath, ujjayi breathing induces a calming effect on the body. Inhale gently, expand your belly as you inhale, then exhale long and slow through the mouth making an ‘ahh’ sound. Repeat this a couple times noticing the effect it has on your body. To continue the exercise, when you are ready close the mouth on the latter half of the exhale while still making the ‘ahh’ sound. After a couple rounds exhale completely with the mouth closed keeping the ‘ahh’ sound. Practice for 3 to 5 mins. At first you may only be able to get the ‘ahh’ or ocean like sound on the exhale. That is a perfect start. Eventually you will be able to get it on the inhale as well. The hands can rest on the lap or in any of the positions pictured.


3. Spinal Twist with Neck Release



We carry a lot of tension in the neck. Preliminary studies are finding relaxing the neck may help relax the entire body. Sit comfortably, on an inhale lengthen your spine and on the exhale slowly twist towards the right. Left hand rests on right knee or thigh, right hand behind the back. Keep the chin over the center of the chest. Inhale lift the ribs and exhale slowly release the shoulder blades down the back. Inhale and on your next exhale slowly release the left ear towards the left shoulder, feel for getting a stretch on the right side of the neck. With each inhale expand the ribs, focus on expanding the right side of the chest. On each exhale feel for relaxing the neck into the stretch, let the mouth open slightly and allow the tongue to rest on the roof of the mouth. Stay for 3 to 8 deep breaths. To release, on an exhale roll the chin down onto the chest. Inhale to release the twist, then lift the head up. Repeat on the opposite side.


4. Alternate Nostril Breathing



This breathing exercise helps clear the sinuses and relaxes the mind. Sitting comfortably, bring your right pointer finger and middle finger to rest between your eyebrows. We use the thumb and ring finger throughout this exercise. Close your eyes and take a deep breath in and out through your nose. Close your right nostril with your thumb. Inhale slowly through the left nostril. Close the left nostril with your ring finger so both nostrils are temporarily closed. Open your right nostril and exhale slowly through the right nostril. Inhale through the right nostril slowly. Close both nostrils off then exhale through the left nostril. You’ve just completed one round. Repeat at least 5 to 10 rounds.


5. Savasana with Breath Exercise



Lay on your back in a comfortable position. Feel free to prop the body with pillows so you are comfortable. For about the first 3 breaths focus on expanding the belly on the inhale and then sighing on the exhale. Afterwards focus on the sound of your inhales and exhales, gently stretching the inhales and exhales until you find yourself no longer wanting to control the breath. Stay in savasana for at least 5 mins.

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