Anxiety has been on my mind a lot lately.
It’s been on my mind because it’s been increasing at a fast pace since March. And who could blame us? Hurricanes, wildfires, and pandemics gall-ore.
But there’s another reason it’s been on my mind. I found out that I have anxiety. In fact I found out I have probably always had it. Once I identified the symptoms I can trace it back to my childhood. Since before I can remember. Back then they called it “shy”. But actually it was one of many symptoms. As a college student I called it “exams”. As an adult I called it “workflow”. As a mother I called it “mom-life”. Now I call it isolating, debilitating, and exhausting.
I didn’t know it, but I was a pro at hiding my anxiety.
I didn’t let it stop me. I pushed through and did what scared me. I pushed through and worked past me tiredness. I pushed through and ignored how it made my loved ones feel. I pushed through until I found my voice and when it finally came out it burst out in an angry roar… That scared me. I am not an angry person. I am a calm person… So why do my insides when they finally come out… explode?
Because I was anxious.
I ignored all the signs and refused the label. But I was anxious. Tiny waves of anxiety washing over my heart every minute of every day.
And I know you might be the same way. I hope my journey of working on healing myself can help you too.
So I am going to dedicate this next season of growth for Voices of Eve to covering anxiety and stress and how to manage them! Maybe even beat them!
I want you to close your eyes and take a deep breath. Hold it for a few seconds and let it go.
Now, odds are you feel even the tiniest bit better. And that is because breathing is important. I talk about it a lot in my work. Reminding moms to breath. And for most of my career so far it has been a mechanical statement. I knew breathing was important and I knew that it helps us relax. but I didn’t truly know how important breathing is. But I know more now!
Breathe In and Out All Day Long
There is an incredible guy named Wim Hof. He has built his life and career around understanding and testing the limits of the human body. He has perfected breathing to the point where he has broken multiple records!
“Hof has set the world record for longest time in direct, full-body contact with ice a total of 16 times, including 1 hour, 42 minutes and 22 seconds on 23 January 2009; 1 hour, 44 minutes in January 2010; and 1 hour 53 minutes and 2 seconds in 2013.”– Wikipedia
But he has gone even further than that! To prove that breathing can be life changing when done correctly he and a group of volunteers purposefully injected themselves with toxin and were able to purge the toxins from their bodies using the Wim Hof breathing technique.
Now I know what you are thinking, “How is that applicable to my life? I don’t get injected with neurotoxins and I don’t go diving off icebergs”.
And you are right! But if breathing can do that… Imagine how breathing could change things like your mood, your anxiety, or your health in general. If we could place more emphasis and consciousness on breathing. We may not be cured, but could we be some amount better?
What if breathing deeply in and out was the first thing we did when we woke up in the morning?
What if it was our first response when we felt anger or anxiety rising in us? What if it was the last thing we did before going to sleep at night?
According to Genesis 2:7 breathe was the first act of human life. And that breath came from God Himself. He created us in His likeness and then animated us with His own breath. Imagine Adam and Eve taking those first breaths. God’s own carbon dioxide and oxygen resting in their chests for a split second or more. And then all the other things that are biological and physiological functions followed in their turn.
There are several other verses in the Bible that compare living to having “the breath of God” in the speakers lungs. Which I am sure is refering to the fact that all belongs to God and we are only temporary keepers of every blessing… every breath.
I like to think about that when I am doing deep conscious breathing. Bringing in Oxygen from my environment and pausing on each molecule… being those molecules keepers. And then sending them away. Be it through the oxygenation of my blood stream or sending the mixture of oxygen and carbon dioxide back out into the world for someone else.
That brings us to how to effectively breathe.
One thing you should know is that deep breaths are important! But almost more important is holding onto that breath. It gives your body more time to soak up the oxygen before exhaling. And more oxygen means more fuel for our body to do, literally, all of its functions. walking, talking, thinking, feeling, they all need oxygen.
I am not telling you that if you would just breathe better then you wouldn’t have anxiety. I am also not telling you that breathing right will completely cure you.
But I am saying that if you make time to be intentional with your breathing that it will make some amount of difference.
My challenge to you is to set a reminder on your phone, I am doing it right now as I am typing this message, to breathe every day.
“Hey Siri, remind me to breath every day at 9 am.”
Take 2-5 minutes out of your day to breathe deep cleansing breaths. Draw in as much oxygen as you can and be as selfish as you can to hold onto as many molecules as you can! Do it for you. do it for your kids!
And if you are a praying person maybe use that time to say a prayer for your day. Pray for your biggest burden, your greatest hope, or even the next monotonous task on your to do list.
Breathing was our first act as a creation. It can connect us to our Father in heaven. It can calm, comfort, relax, and even heal us.
Breathe In and Breathe out.