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  • Writer's pictureClaire Wortley

Breeeeeeathe..... Yes really!

Updated: Nov 8, 2020

This morning I had to go for a blood test. I'm not good with anything like this and have fainted many times during or just after someone takes blood. I explained this to the nurse and she suggested I lie down. It was at this point that I heard Anxiety. Now even though I have lots of healthy tools to use against Anxiety, it still manages to rile me sometimes.

'It's gonna hurt! You're gonna faint! You're such a wimp.....ner ner ne ner're gonna make a fool of yourself and the nurse will think you're stupid. What a wuss!'

Thankfully Calm was sitting on my other shoulder ready to speak up for me,

'Claire you are ok. Trust that whatever happens you will be ok. Let's get breathing the 7-11 way! in for 7, out for 11, in for 7, out for 11,in for 7,out for 11!'

This little beauty worked a treat! For me it has been hugely empowering. It has enabled me to get on a plane, go abroad, do well in interviews and sometimes help with the little things like getting out of bed on a particularly bad day or to eat.

Thankfully I was calm enough to have the blood taken and also able to stand up almost straight after without feeling queasy.

7-11 breathing is a great tool. I practice it daily and sometimes it kicks in as soon as I feel stressed without any conscious effort from me. Here's a bit more info about it.

Here is how you do it, and it is as easy as it sounds:

1 - breathe in for a count of 7.

2 - then breathe out for a count of 11.

Make sure that when you are breathing in, you are doing deep ‘diaphragmatic breathing’ (your diaphragm moves down and pushes your stomach out as you take in a breath) rather than shallower higher lung breathing.

If you find that it’s difficult to lengthen your breaths to a count of 11 or 7, then reduce the count to breathing in for 3 and out to 5, or whatever suits you best, as long as the out-breath is longer than the in-breath.

Continue in this way for 5-10 minutes or longer if you have time – and enjoy the calming effect it will have on your mind and body. An added bonus of 7-11 breathing is that the very act of counting to 7 or 11 is a distraction technique, taking your mind off your immediate concerns.

This 7/11 breathing technique for relaxing quickly is the most powerful we know and has been used for thousands of years throughout the world.

What does breathing out longer than you breathe in achieve?

The breath is aligned to the two main parts of the nervous system:-

• Sympathetic – which governs the parts of your body that need to be activated if there is any danger about or that needs an immediate response to. The sympathetic system is designed to be more active during the day and as an alignment with the in breath.

• Para-sympathetic – this governs the parts of your body that calms everything down and brings the body rest and relaxation. The para-sympathetic is designed to govern the body more at night and as more of an alignment with the out breath.

It does not matter how anxious you are feeling, breathing out longer than you breathe in forces the body to activate calming responses.

So often we feel we are at the mercy of those panicky little voices in our heads telling us we are this or that but we have far more control over them than we think. Often it's about letting go of old beliefs and behaviour patterns and allowing new healthy ones to take root.

I love this Native American Parable........

An old Cherokee is teaching his grandson about life. “A fight is going on inside me,” he said to the boy. “It is a terrible fight and it is between two wolves. One is evil – he is anger, envy, sorrow, regret, greed, arrogance, self-pity, guilt, resentment, inferiority, lies, false pride, superiority, and ego.”

He continued, “The other is good – he is joy, peace, love, hope, serenity, humility, kindness, benevolence, empathy, generosity, truth, compassion, and faith. The same fight is going on inside you – and inside every other person, too.”

The grandson thought about it for a minute and then asked his grandfather, “Which wolf will win?”

The old Cherokee simply replied, “The one you feed.”

Have a good day.


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