Anxiety and stress are taking over our lives. The world is moving faster and faster and we all struggle at times to keep up. As a result we feel so overwhelmed and that feeling manifests itself in anxiousness and panic.
At Shona, we seek advice from many mental health professionals on how best to cope with anxiety, and today, one of them shared with us the 7-11 breathing technique, which is a very simple and powerful tool to help us relax and regain control of our breathing.
According to this article, “breathing techniques are not just ‘mind tricks’, they produce a bodily response that lowers your anxiety in a very physical way.” We love it because it doesn’t cost anything, it can be done anywhere at any time, and it works.
The idea is simply that when your out breath is longer than your in breath, it prompts your body and your mind to slow down, pretty much instantly. When your head starts to spin, take yourself somewhere calm and quiet, even go to the bathroom if necessary, and practice this for about 5-10 minutes.
Here is how you do it, and it is as easy as it sounds:
1 – breathe in for a count of 7.
2 – then breathe out for a count of 11.
Make sure that when you breathe in, you use your diaphragm, which means that your belly, and your lungs are filled with air, as opposed to just holding air in your mouth.
“If you find that it’s difficult to lengthen your breaths to a count of 11 or 7, then reduce the count to breathing in for 3 and out to 5, or whatever suits you best, as long as the out-breath is longer than the in-breath.”
If you struggle with anxiety or feel like you need more help, please take a look at this list of supports, or go and visit your GP, who will give you advice that’s specific to your needs. This is a good tool, and won’t be suitable for everyone but its definitely worth a try.