how to reduce stress, anxiety, and fear with breathing

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(Disclaimer – read Thich Nhat Hanh, I’ve learned a lot about what I’m going to say through his teachings this past year.)

What’s something we do all day that if we did consciously would relieve stress, anxiety, anger and fear? It’s breathing. How often do we not pay attention to our breath? I can go days without taking note that my stomach is rising and falling with each breathe. Isn’t that a bit strange? Something we do all the time but pay zero attention too.

We’ve probably all heard about taking ten breaths when you start to feel angry as it will help you calm down and manage the situation better. When we calm down and listen to our breath and be in our breath, we begin to live in the present moment. We can begin to let our anxieties of the future and past fade away.

Your sleeping can improve!

Sleeping for me has always been tough, it’s been hard to shut off the mind each day. If we take time throughout the day to breath (AKA meditate), focus on the breath and the present moment we can let our mind relax and stop the thought cycle. Practicing this during the day makes falling asleep much easier because we’ve worked through thoughts and feelings throughout the day instead of only letting these thoughts consume us as we lay our heads down.

Where do our anxieties reside?

My anxieties reside mostly in the future and the past. I beat myself up for things that happened in the past or I dread certain things in the future. If I allow myself to relax, breath, and participate fully in the present moment, these anxieties are diminished. I realize everything is OK right now.

It’s hard to only focus on breath, what are some exercises I can use to help me?

Here are some sayings that I took from Thich Nhat Hanh that have helped me. Time your breathing for each sentence, it helps to slowly think the sentences but not say them out loud. Slowly, you can drop thinking about the sentences and totally dive into your breath. It’s like anything, the more you practice, the easier it becomes. Don’t beat yourself up for thinking other thoughts, just slowly come back to the breath.

1.
Breathing in,
I am aware of my in-breath.Breathing out,
I am aware of my out-breath.

2.
Breathing in, I follow my in-breath all the way through.Breathing out, I follow my out-breath all the way through.

3.
Breathing in, I am aware of my whole body.Breathing out, I follow my out-breath all the way through.

4.
Breathing in, I calm my body.
Breathing out, I calm my body.

There are many more breathing exercises that I can share but these are a few good ones to start. Thanks for reading the blog and I hope these exercises help you like they’ve helped me.

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post (sailboat) survey anxiety

I had waited weeks for this moment. Now was the time someone who knew something about boats was to come and let me know how much is wrong with the boat. Notice how I said “how much,” not if there is anything wrong with the boat because there will be something with any boat. Especially if the boat is from the late 70’s which this one is. Disco was popular when this boat was first made.

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1977 Challenger 32 (sailboat) hauled out and ready for inspection.

I was lucky enough to have a surveyor that welcomed questions and encouraged me to ask as many as I want. I thought for a moment about someone watching me 6 hours straight, doing my job and how annoyed I would probably be. Kudos to him for welcoming this kind of shadow. I mean, I was paying the guy a pretty penny so anything less from him would have been a shame.

The day came and the day went. I lucked out because this just happened to be a day that was relatively sunny in between lots of rain and windy days. The clouds had cleared, was it a sign? Maybe.

It started off really well with everything he checked being functional. It was great to know some of the sailboat lingo from all the books I’ve been reading to understand better what he was talking about. After reviewing practically everything on the boat, it was time to lift the boat out of the water to examine the hull. We slowly moved the boat through the marina and into the boatyard where it would be hauled out.

As we started to lift the boat, I questioned the owners if they thought the boatyard looked up the schematics of the boat beforehand. How do they know where to locate the straps so they don’t lift the boat in the wrong place. They did ask me the model of the boat so

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Not very happy with my picture taking. Is there damage? (1977 Challenger 

I thought there was a chance they had done this. Turns out, nope! We watched in horror as they lifted the boat with one strap being directly on the propeller shaft. After getting the boat lifted, it turned out that “we missed a bullet”, the employee’s words exactly. I’m not sure how I was included in the “we” but we were nonetheless. It sort of soured everything up to that point. Why do I let some things bother me so much?

I need to learn to breath more. So many things are out of my control that I let affect my mood. I need to pause, take a deep breath and just let go. (Writing this down for future self)

Next, after forking out more money (this seems to be a theme with boats) we brought the boat out of the marina and gave it a quick sea trial, raising the sails, then putting the engine at full throttle. At the end of the day nothing terrible was discovered but I still wanted to wait for the results of the survey before making a final offer.

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Keiser Marine – Jeff Keiser surveying the mast. 

I’m not sure if it was the boatyard experience but when I got home I felt a little down. I had worked myself up for this day and now it had past. It reminds me of the principle of the yin and yang. With all the excitement, there will be some time of sadness or boredom. It’s just the way the world works. I’m a believer that we don’t know happy if we don’t know sad. I have to remember this while in the process of setting goals, and generally feeling ecstatic about things. It’s that, “I’ll be happy when…” that’s dangerous. It’s important to enjoy each moment and the journey along the way. I need to remind myself that this feeling will change, just like feelings of sadness will change. “This too shall pass,” is a mantra I sometimes repeat to myself. I only need to remember to say that to myself when I’m excited, that way I can handle the change in emotions more easily.