Breathing and meditation for anxiety
At the start of lockdown, almost half of the UK felt a sense of heightened anxiety, according to the ONS. As the country went into the first lockdown, we were unsure what was going to happen and to a certain extent, that is still true in the midst of the second lockdown. Anxiety is difficult to navigate at the best of times, let alone during a global pandemic, but here are some breathing and meditation techniques that we’ve found make things a little less heavy.
The idea of this exercise is that you breathe in, hold, exhale and hold for the same amount of breaths, making a box shape in your mind. Start by breathing in for four counts, holding for four counts, exhaling for four and holding for four before repeating the cycle again. This repetition calms the mind and allows you to focus on deep, long breaths.
Alternate nostril breathing
Take your right hand and place your middle finger in between your eyes. You are going to use your thumb to close off your right nostril in order to inhale through the left. You will then hold your breath and switch to closing your left nostril with your ring finger, letting your thumb fall away and exhaling through the right. You inhale through the right and repeat the cycle a few times. This is alternate nostril breathing. Breathing through the nose allows oxygen to flow through your body more quickly than through mouth breathing, and this style is good for detoxifying the body. It will calm your mind and slow your breathing down, taking you out of fight or flight mode.
One of our favourite meditations is to work through positive affirmations. If you are not at the point where you can say them out loud, this is perfect for keeping them inside your mind but still feeling their full effect. Think of an ‘I am…’ phrase that is positive and kind to yourself. It could be ‘I am powerful’ or ‘I am kind’ and use this as your anchor point throughout your meditation, repeating it over and over in your head.
For this, you will need to imagine yourself in a happy place. A beach, a park, a room, somewhere that feels safe and you are content. Throughout the meditation, think about relaxing or walking through that happy place. What sensations can you feel? What can you smell? What can you taste? What does the ground feel like beneath your feet? Visualising a happy place or space will take you out of the current moment and hopefully melt away some stresses. For this, it might be worth putting some soothing music on in the background too.
There are four of the techniques that have helped us, but if you have others you would like to share, please get in touch. You can also join MADE on demand for wellbeing workshops, guided meditations and breathing for anxiety audios.