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If You Can Breathe and Count, You Can Address Anxiety

Breathing techniques, Box breathing

Everyone worries from time to time. That is only natural given all of the things going on in our lives. We worry about our job or school responsibilities. We were about our finances. We worry about our relationships.

But some people feel an intense sense of worry much of the time. And they have that feeling even when they are not actually worried about anything in particular. It can be absolutely overwhelming and disruptive to a person’s life. Maybe that sounds familiar to you.

If so, you may be struggling with a mental health disorder. The bad news is that anxiety and panic disorders are common. The good news is that they are treatable. 

At Peak View Behavioral Health, we provide personalized treatment for a range of mental health disorders—including those centered around anxiety and panic. We can help you improve your mental health and maintain those improvements over time. 

That does not mean, however, that you will never experience anxiety again. Sometimes, those feelings of worry and anxiousness just seem to pop up out of nowhere. When that happens, it can help to have some quick and easy strategies for addressing it on the spot. 

Happily, we know two breathing techniques that are perfect for this situation. Let’s take a look at box breathing and a countdown strategy—both of which can help you get anxiety under control in the moment.

Box Breathing is a Breeze

Here is a solid option when you feel anxiety creeping up on you. Find a spot to sit comfortably and follow these simple instructions:

  • Take a breath in for a count of four
  • Hold your breath for a count of four
  • Breathe out for four
  • Hold your breath for a count of four
  • Complete the cycle a total of four times

Still feeling anxious? No problem. Just follow those instructions again. Make sure you don’t rush. 

Box breathing activates the parts of your nervous system that manage your breathing and nudge your body toward a feeling of relaxation. That means the technique can help you find a feeling of calm. In addition to helping to address feelings of anxiety, box breathing can reduce stress levels, help with insomnia, and even help you effectively manage pain.

And the practice of box breathing is always available to you—no equipment, medication, or therapist required. 

Want more details? You can find them here.

A Countdown That Really Counts

To get started with this simple countdown technique, take a few deep breaths. Now get ready to engage each of your senses as you countdown from five to one.

  • FIVE: Name five things you can see—either aloud or to yourself. It does not matter what they are. Just take a moment to focus on each of the five items you pick.
  • FOUR: Name four things you can touch—and actually touch each as you focus on them. Take your time and notice the texture of each object you touch.
  • THREE: Name three things you can hear—and spend a few moments really listening to your environment. So many sounds fade into the background and we never notice them. Use this as an opportunity to really pay attention to three sounds.
  • TWO: Name two things you can smell—and take time to really enjoy the scent. You might breathe in the scent of a nearby plant or linger over the smell of your morning coffee or afternoon tea. As with each step before, be sure to take your time.
  • ONE: Name one thing you can taste—whether it is the beverage with the aroma you were just exploring, a piece of gum, a mint, or a piece of chocolate. Keeping something handy for this part of the exercise can be a good idea.

Finish up with a couple more deep breaths. And, yes, you can take the exercise from the top if you are still feeling anxious. Like box breathing, this is a breathing technique that is always available—wherever you are at the moment anxiety rears its head. 

Want more details? You can find them here.

Remember: Treatment is Available and Effective

As we have noted, these two breathing techniques strategies for dealing with the sudden onset of anxiety can be very helpful. That said, they are not a replacement for therapy to address a mental health disorder. Getting quality treatment is the best way to see improvement over time.

At Peak View Behavioral Health—located in Colorado Springs, Colorado—we can help you work toward improved mental health with a personalized treatment plan and ongoing support. If you are ready to get started on a journey toward mental wellness and a better quality of life, we are ready to get to work.

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