MHM: Breathing

mhm: breathing, forever september, breathing techniques, breathe, tattoo, mental health, lifestyle, anxiety, depression, mental illness, self help, headspace, flowy, distraction, controlled breathing, panic attacksHello, hi. Apologies for missing three weeks worth of mental health monday’s but ironically, my mental health has been pretty shit. I’ve touched on it a little bit in Instagram posts and stuff but basically, my anxiety has just been so bad. It left me unable to move from the sofa some days and really did stop me in my tracks.

However, I’m (kinda) getting there with things. Its a slow and steady process but I’m trying really hard to get back to it. Since I’ve been going through this rough patch, I thought I’d write a post about something thats really helped me get through. Breathing.

If you’ve ever had therapy, you may be familiar with breathing techniques. I remember it being one of the first things I got taught/told when I started therapy back when I was 16. I was really skeptical though because I wondered how on earth breathing would help me. However, as I’ve gotten a bit older and practiced it more, I can totally see the positive effects.

Breathing seems pretty simple, its something we all have to do in order to stay alive (duh). But, there are different breathing techniques that really help to calm you down when you’re in the midst of an anxiety or panic attack. The technique I personally use regularly, is 7-11. This is where you breathe in to the count of 7 and breathe out to the count of 11. A similar technique used is 4-7-8 breathing. This is where you breathe in for 4, hold your breath for 7 and breathe out for 8. I can’t say I use this as much as 7-11, but I assume it has very similar effects. I guess its just about finding what works best for you.

I find that using these breathing techniques really helps to ground me and bring me back to reality and out of that irrational state of mind. I’m not saying its a miracle cure, because its not, but it definitely helps. If you can control your breathing before it gets into the hyperventilating stages, then you’re doing good – trust me.

I also have a few apps that I have to mention, because they’re really good at helping with the whole controlled breathing thing. First, is Headspace. I’m sure most of you have probably heard of this app, its really popular but for a good reason. There are so many options to choose from on this, they have packs dedicated to specific issues, such as ‘finding focus’, ‘acceptance’, ‘managing anxiety’ etc. So not only do these help with breathing, but also help you to understand and potentially manage the anxiety you’re experiencing. The second one is an app called Flowy. Its gonna be so hard to explain this but I’ll give it a go, haha. So you have a little boat that you have to control through obstacles and collect coins on the way. However there is a cloud that appears after you’ve made your way through the obstacles that helps you to control your breathing. Its probably better if you just give it a go to see what I’m talking about but its great for controlling your breathing and also distracting you from whatever is making you anxious.

I hope this post was somewhat helpful, because its amazing what controlled breathing can do in a time of severe anxiety. If you know of any apps that help with breathing or are a great distraction, I’d love to know!

– Lucy