When your body thinks you are in a fearful situation (even when there’s no real danger), it prepares you for that danger by revving up your body (like faster breathing, rapid heartbeat, and tense muscles). There are some techniques you can use to help decrease those physical symptoms and make them easier to manage. By focusing on deep breathing for example, you are sending a message to your amygdala (that emotional center of your brain) that it’s safe and she can let the brainstem know to calm the body down.
Try this. run in place for about 30 seconds. Then stop. What do you notice? Is your heart beating faster? Is your breathing heavier? Now sit down and take several deep breaths for about another 30 seconds or so. What do you notice now? As you breathe deeper, do you notice your heartbeat slowing down? In another minute or so, you may notice you may start to feel relax.
When you start to feel anxious and you feel your heart stop to beat faster or your breathing gets heavier, or your chest tightens, try taking several deep breaths.
But here’s the key: you have to practice relaxation skills daily, so it becomes a habit. Many teens I work with, only try breathing deeply when they are already on full anxiety of panic mode complain that breathing doesn’t work.
Typically, this doesn’t always help. When you are fearful or worried, the thinking part of your brain shuts down and you not thinking clearly or logically. You are survival mode, so you aren’t thinking about calming strategies. But if you practice these strategies, so that they become second nature and you also begin to recognize your triggers, you can manage your worries before things get out of hand.
Think of it this way: “You can’t teach a drowning person to swim.” Teach a person to swim while they are calm and in danger, so when they are in danger, they know what to do, because it will be easier.