During an anxiety attack, your sympathetic nervous system (fight/flight) goes into overdrive. Your body reacts as if there was a threat to your integrity and your brain gets flooded with panicky thoughts.
At this point, your “reasoning brain” barely functions anymore.
Anyone who has ever had an anxiety attack knows how pointless it is to try to reason with yourself.
You cannot control your thoughts.
But there’s another way to control your nervous system… Know what it is?
Yes! Your breath.
Instead of trying to control your thoughts to calm your nervous system (pointless), you can trick your nervous system into thinking you are calm through your breath.
It’s simple and pretty genius.
When your breath is calm, your nervous system sends messages to the brain saying “everything’s chill”. Only then can the reasoning brain resume its work.
Next time you feel anxiety rising…
Instead of trying to reason with yourself:
- Observe your breath
- Make your exhale a little bit longer than your inhale. For example, count to 4 on the inhale and count to 6 on the exhale.