Don’t Forget To Breathe

Note: This article is referring to occasional, manageable anxiety. If you
feel anxious all the time, or if your anxiety is out of proportion to a given situation, you should talk to a guidance counsellor or a psychologist for additional help.

Like most Girl Guides, you are probably pretty busy. Between school and homework, afterschool activities, and Guiding, you have a lot of details to remember and you most likely try to do a lot of different things at once – studying, texting, and planning, all while doing an activity.

Switching your attention from one thing to another, going back and forth between things that are going to happen, things that have happened and the thing that is going on now can sometimes leave you feeling frazzled and anxious.

Anxiety is most likely to occur in those times when you are concerned about the past or the future and forgetting to focus on right now.  That lack of focus often prevents you from taking action in the present. Then, those anxious feelings make your body react like it is in danger: your muscles tighten; your breathing is shallow; and your heart races.

To calm down, you need to let your body know that everything will be okay.

Once your body can relax, your mind will usually follow.

These four tips should help you deal with any anxiety you are feeling right now, and help you to keep it under control in the future.

Girl Guides 2010 PSA Still image

Girl Guides 2010 PSA Still image

Breathe Deeply

When you are freaking out, you are probably breathing shallowly – just in your chest. Try breathing a full breath:  Fill up your belly, then your chest, and release it the same way. Imagine the oxygen spreading throughout your body and bringing a feeling of calm.

You can also calm yourself by borrowing a yoga technique called Nadi Shodhan Pranayama, which helps still the mind by focusing attention on the breath.

Remember your body

Try doing a small, repetitive physical action. Wiggling your toes or your fingers, stretching your neck, or even thinking about a sensation – how your pants feel against your knees, how your toes feel in your socks – can bring your thoughts out of the anxiety spiral.

Regular exercise can also help reduce anxiety, so find ways to get moving whenever you can.

Practice relaxation

You can’t be anxious and relaxed at the same time, so if you can identify the place where your body is holding the tension (your jaw, your hands, your leg muscles) and choose to relax them, that will help a lot.

You may also want to try a progressive relaxation exercise like the one in this video that teaches your to relax each of your muscles in turn.

Prepare in Advance

If you are anxious about a future situation, walk yourself through it in advance. Imagine the things you have to do, how you will do them and how you will handle it if things go wrong. Remind yourself of times when you have done similar things and they have turned out just fine.

You can also reduce your anxiety around exams and presentations by making sure that you plan as much time as you can for reviewing the material in the way that makes the most sense for you.

Anxiety is a normal part of life, it can help us recognize when the things we are doing are important to us. Luckily, as Guides, you are already doing two of the important things that experts recommend to reduce anxiety: volunteering and spending time in nature, so you are already on the way to feeling better.

If anxiety still creeps up on you, then remembering to breathe, to connect to your body, to practice relaxation, and to prepare in advance, will help you to manage those feelings.

For some more tips on reducing anxiety please see:  ‘5 Ways to Deal with Anxiety’ from KidsHealth.org

By guest blogger Christine Hennebury. Christine is a writer, storyteller and life coach who lives in Newfoundland and Labrador, helping people feel a little better right now is one of her favourite things to do.

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Join GGC

Join GGC!

What’s New with Girl Guides? Our new 3-tiered online registration process means that registrations for the 2013/2014 Guiding year will be spread out over three periods:

1. Girls returning to their Unit: 10 AM EDT on Tuesday, April 2nd to Tuesday, April 30th.

2. Any returning girls (moving up or changing Units): 10 AM EDT on Wednesday, May 1st to Sunday, June 2nd.

3. Any girl, new or returning: 10 AM EDT on Monday, June 3rd and onwards.

Please note: Online registration will be shut down starting today Monday, March 4th until 10:00 AM EDT on Tuesday, April 2nd. Any girls that decide to register for the 2012-2013 Guiding year during this period can still use paper registration to join a unit.

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One Response to Don’t Forget To Breathe

  1. Grace says:

    This is a great post! Entering my first year of University in the fall I struggled a lot with anxiety and it’s not something that our society tends to talk enough about in advance of someone we know having an issue. Even afterwards, many people don’t talk about it because they’re embarrassed or scared but take it from me, talking about it is really important. If you keep it quiet it’s hard for your friends and family to help you to find ways of keeping it under control and by sharing with the people you trust you can take a load off your own shoulders. All of the techniques in this post are ones that I use to help myself calm down when I start to spiral into anxiety mode, yoga being one of my personal favourites!

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