The recent Mental Health Awareness Week #MHAW17 really encouraged people to share information & talk about mental health issues whilst raising public awareness & break existing taboo's. So I thought I would blog about my experiences raising a son with severe anxiety and panic attacks.
Worryingly, The World Health Organisation estimates that one in four of us will experience some form of anxiety during our lifetime! I'm sure we all have close family or friends who are suffering right now, often in silence....so let's be there for them by listening, taking their fears seriously & letting them know they are special, loved & important.
Although it is normal & indeed natural to feel anxious from time to time, if you regularly experience these symptoms start addressing your lifestyle before the anxiety really starts to dissabilitate you. Chest pains, dizzyness, feeling faint, breathing becoming laboured, breathing becoming faster and shallower for no reason, faster heartbeat, sweating, sheer panic for no apparent reason and unable to focus or concentrate are all symptoms of anxiety.
Over the past 20 years, I've worked with clients suffering with anxiety, eating disorders & other mental health issues, indeed my son has suffered with terrible panic attacks since the age of 7 (he's now 14). Yoga & breathing exercises have been a great tool & have really helped.
But do you know how to breath correctly? This may seem a ridiculous question, but most of us need to re-educate our bodies to breath correctly, especially if you are or have suffered from anxiety, panic attacks or any other mental health issues.
Acknowledging when you feel anxious & using breathing techniques as a tool to prevent the anxiety developing is the first step in taking control over your fear & anxiety.
On a very personal note, seeing my son suffer with dissabilitating panic attacks was incredibly upsetting, luckily his school was very supportive & so were his friends. When attacks did happen, he would sit on my lap in the rocking chair and we would just sit in silence, breath & rock often for over an hour! (even at 12, he was much bigger than me!)
If your child is suffering from anxiety there are fun techniques to help them learn to control their breathing & ultimately their anxiety. With my daughters, I regularly do mindful colouring & have recently tried egg decorating meditation with them, even though they don't suffer like Ben did, I believe it is so important to have the toolkit ready, just incase they ever need it. Here is a link to mindful colouring for kids. http://www.yogimums.co.uk/family-fun-meditation/
During times of stress, we tend to take shallow breaths from our chest, often resulting in hyperventilation, it's paramount that we re-educate ourselves to breath correctly. Yoga places a great emphasis on breathing correctly & controlling our breathe so we don't hyperventilate.
Hyperventilation or over-breathing occurs when our breath is too shallow and quick and as a result we breath out carbon dioxide quicker than our body can produce it (therefore taking onboard too much oxygen). Another problem with hyperventilating is it actually makes us feel like we need more oxygen, so we start to breath faster and shallower which is the worst thing to do!
As yoga and breath have a direct link with your mind and emotions it can empower you when you are feeling nervous or upset, therefore when you feel your breath is becoming more shallow and laboured, you can use techniques to ensure a full panic attack will not occur. It is therefore vital to ensure you have the right techniques to deal with anxiety before it flares its ugly head.
Breathing from your belly (Belly Breath) is a great technique to use, click on this link for details. http://www.anxietycoach.com/breathingexercise.html
Read my newsletter for regular breathing tips and suggestions to help you ground yourself and take back control of your anxiety or follow my Facebook page for regular updates. http://www.facebook.com/theyogimums
Good Luck & keep up the deep breathing :)
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