Just Breath | Breathing Exercises

Hopefully you know about breathing exercises as relaxation method. There are quite a few techniques – breathing meditation, diaphragmatic/deep breathing, breath counting, etc. I don’t notice much a benefit to using breathing techniques as a way of dealing with my dysthymia/depression (that’s not to say there are no benefits, only that I do not personally notice any). However, I definitely benefit from using breathing techniques as a way to combat anxiety.

I now – finally – use different breathing techniques instinctively. I don’t remember exactly when I first learnt about using breathing, but I estimate that it has taken over 5 years for me to reach the point where I use the techniques without consciously telling myself to beforehand. That seems like quite a while, doesn’t it? But it’s not easy to train your brain, I guess (or at least, it’s not easy to train my brain).

When I feel anxious, my breathing becomes shallow, my chest and muscles all tighten up, and my stomach will get a bit upset. It doesn’t feel great. However, by doing some deep breathing, those sensations go away. They don’t go away immediately (I wish!), but I do think they reduce fairly quickly. Breathing exercises also give my mind something to focus on, rather than ruminating on whatever idea is making my anxious. So, for me, using different breathing techniques is a good way to avoid panic attacks.

I do experiment with different breathing exercises, but I have three go-to ones:

diaphragmatic/deep breathing: literally just taking slow, deep breaths using your diaphragm (rather than your chest)

4-7-8 counting: breath in for a count of 4, hold your breath for a count of 7, breath out for a count of 8, then repeat (warning: this one has made me a bit light-headed before; you may wish to slightly modify the count, such as 5-6-7)

4-count breathing: breath in and then count ‘1’ as you exhale; repeat and count ‘2’; repeat again and count ‘3’; repeat again and count ‘4’; keep breathing, starting again at ‘1’ – never count past 4

As a bonus, I find breathing exercises can be a good way to get to sleep. It’s better than staring at the clock, anyhow.

So, if you don’t do breathing exercises, give it a try! If you do, be persistent, because they can be very useful!

P.S. Feel free to share your favourite breathing exercises; I’d love to give them try! 🙂

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One step forward, two steps back

Alternative title: “In which Michelle talks about her butt”

Sometimes it’s like any progress is immediately followed by regression (it isn’t, but I still feel that way sometimes). If I have one good day, the next day will be crap. If I make a new friend, I’ll lose an old one. If I find something about myself to like, I’ll find something new to hate.

And that’s today’s story. My self esteem and body image are not good. Some days, I think I’m pretty okay, but most days…not so much. I have made some progression. As a teenager, I had far worse body image. This is fairly ironic, since I was in much better shape then (though perhaps slightly more funny-looking [I had distinct ideas about what makeup looked good on me, and those ideas were not necessarily correct]).

But for a long time, I hated my body shape. I’m not the ‘ideal’ hourglass, but rather, am distinctly pear-shaped. This means I carry much of my weight on my hips, butt, and thighs. This was horrific when I was a teenager; I desperately wanted to be one of those waifishly thin girls whose thighs did not touch (‘thigh gap’). It just wasn’t going to happen for me. I don’t think it will ever happen for me without drastic and unhealthy weight-loss. Drastic weight-loss is fairly unlikely to happen for me, since I really love carbs.

And that’s okay. I’ve come to accept my body type. It probably helps that we live in a time that fawns over being ‘bootylicious’. So, thanks, Hollywood, porn directors, and ‘ass men’ for making my body type desirable. I appreciate it.

Except once I stopped worrying about my body shape, I found other things to worry about! One step forward, two steps back. Even though I’d decided it was okay that my butt is kinda big, I started considering that it wasn’t quite the right shape, and was maybe not quite firm enough, and, god, look at that cellulite!

So, I work on these new things. I remind myself that nearly all women have cellulite. I tell myself to exercise if I’m that concerned about shape and firmness (I should be exercising anyway!). Maybe once I get over one of these things, I’ll find something else to worry myself over. Then, I’ll work on those new things.

It’s a long journey. I’m getting somewhere, just not very quickly. But that’s okay…all these steps should help tone my butt, right? 😀

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