Deep Breathing for Anxiety

I took a holistic nursing class recently, and discovered a relaxation technique called “deep breathing”. Basically, this technique focuses on slow, deep breathing using the diaphragm muscle to calm and relax a person’s respiratory rate, with the additional relaxation of the neck, shoulder and upper chest muscles to help improve oxygenation and soothe the mind and body.

Marc Basnight Bridge
Marc Basnight Bridge. Photo credit:

Driving back to the mainland of North Carolina from Hatteras Island is not for the faint of heart if you are manning an older vehicle with over 220,000 miles on it. See this bridge in the photo above? This is the Marc Basnight bridge that spans the Oregon Inlet in the Outer Banks. It had my heart pounding; I could feel it throbbing in my throat as it flipped over and over (in reality, those were just stress-induced premature ventricular contractions). My knuckles were clenched to the steering wheel in anticipation of whatever vehicular decimation my old mini-van was going to attempt as I went over this long, long bridge with no shoulder, cellular signal, and a van full of children and our elderly 80-pound dog. My breathing became so shallow that I felt that I was breathing in stale, dead air without any oxygen in it at all. I decided to try the deep breathing relaxation technique.

This technique may work for many people, but it only served to distract me – perhaps I need a lot more practice. The only physical relief I got was the exhale out. Each breath in felt like a tornado of fire mixed with fear and terror as it dragged into my lungs. I tried to counteract this physically panicky feeling with concentrating on adding a purpose to each breath: “peace and love in, anxiety out”.

It. Did. Not. Work.

I did not calm down at all this entire trip in this old vehicle until I was back at home in my driveway and meeting back up with my new car that I purchased in December. To get to the point of this story – my old van did fine for the entire trip. It was all just ME freaking out about what COULD happen. I blame all of this anxiety on being a single mother. Yes, I have people I could count on if I were to break down 4 hours away from their location, but let’s face it, no one wants to put out their friends and family like this unless it is a spouse or parent -both of which I do not have. Being a single parent is HARD. The only way I can see a perfect solution to this sort of anxiety is to have unlimited money to use and be able to rent a minivan each time I need to make a family trip. bahahahaaa – unlimited money!

On to the next therapy to try!

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