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How my first signs of anxiety were ignored

Hey you, keep living. It won’t always be this overwhelming. Jacqueline Whitney

When I was in high school I struggled with my breathing. The feeling that I couldn't take a full breath caused me even more stress, although at that age I didn’t have any awareness of this, just a feeling of frustration and concern. After several complaints to my mother, she ended up taking me to the doctor and they gave me a ventilator despite saying that I didn't have asthma. I was a little rebellious back then so when I realized that the ventilator gave me a little bit of a head buzz I ended up misusing it. Yes I’m no angel! I can’t recall if it helped with the breathing issue, this was a LONG time ago after all!

As an adult I now realize that that was the first-time anxiety had presented in a physical form for me. I'm now just shy of turning 44 and breathing properly still is an issue for me at times. When I don't breathe properly due to stress and anxiety it has a whole range of implications. It adversely impacts my emotional state, makes my neck and back seize up, and generally results in tension present in my mind and body. It is usually my number one indicator that I'm anxious but sometimes it take me a while to notice if I’m busy not noticing. Hence why I mediate on a daily basis and also use the 4-7-8 breathing technique for when I am shallow breathing or tense. I’ll mention more about both these techniques in a minute.

So how does anxiety show up for you?

An estimated 264 million people worldwide have an anxiety disorder. Then there are the people who experience or suffer from anxiety and do not get diagnosed. Or like me, have it present in a physical form but the opportunity to have it diagnosed gets missed as a busy GP may only be focused on treating the symptoms and not addressing the underlying cause of the issue. Your body is an amazing indicator when something isn’t right. Being present and really connecting to yourself using a process like meditation or mindfulness allows the time and space to let ‘stuff’ come up.. the stuff we supress by being too busy.. the stuff that will eventually come up if you avoid it. Sometimes like a slap in the face. It also allows us to take a little ‘mind holiday’ using our imaginations (assuming you choose to use a guided visualisation as part of your meditation process). It allows relaxation to occur whilst you are focused on imagining your ‘happy place’ .. wherever that may be. It takes us from a Beta brain wave state (where we are alert and focused) to an Alpha or Theta brain wave state where we feel relaxed and calm, and healing can happen – physically, emotionally and mentally. You can read more about brain waves HERE. Just like going to a gym, the more you do this, the easier it gets and the benefits become obvious. It doesn’t take long. I recommend you take advantage of natural brain wave states and spend 5 minutes as soon as you wake, or just before going to bed to meditate by either focusing on the breath, doing a guided visualisation or using another method that works for you to get you into conscious present moment awareness. You can try one of the audio recordings I have available on my website by clicking HERE.

In the event you need to snap out of a tense and stressed state, there are a number of breathing techniques that are designed to bring the body into a state of deep relaxation. The 4-7-8 technique brings the body back into balance and regulates the fight-or-flight response we feel when we’re stressed. This response is triggered by our sympathetic nervous system, and the 4-7-8 breathing technique activates the parasympathetic nervous system to restore the body and mind to a calm and composed state. This is particularly helpful if you’re experiencing sleeplessness due to unhelpful thoughts running through your head at the end of a particularly stressful day. At first it can feel quite strange, even make you feel a little lightheaded. But like meditation, the more it is used the easier it becomes and its effects more obvious. You are literally training your mind. You can watch me demonstrate the technique by watching the video below.

Slow breathing is like an anchor in the midst of an emotional storm: the anchor won’t make the storm goes away, but it will hold you steady until it passes. Russ Harris

Next month I will talk about when I did finally get anxiety diagnosed. I will also share a specific technique I use in my hypnotherapy sessions that can rapidly free you from the emotional hold traumatic events can have, so you can get on with living, and ultimately live your best life. If you can't wait till next month and want to hear more about techniques used in my sessions, and how hypnotherapy can help you live your best life, get in touch for your FREE 30 minute strategy consultation (online or in person) by clicking HERE.

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