When your anxiety increases, your ability to think clearly decreases and your rationale thoughts can become clouded with your eating disorder voice. Additionally, physical symptoms of anxiety including racing heart, shortness of breath, feeling lightheaded and dizzy, hot flashes or chills, and nausea can distract you from your ability to think clearly. Respiratory control is a technique that can be effective in managing the physical and cognitive symptoms of anxiety and can be a valuable skill in your tool box of recovery based coping skills. Below are the steps for respiratory control.
HOW TO DO RESPIRATORY CONTROL
1. Inhale through your nose (instead of your mouth). 2. Each breath should be slow and relaxed yet "normal sized" (do not breathe deeply). 3. As you fill your lungs with air, slowly push your diaphragm (or stomach) out. This is the opposite of what our diaphragm normally does when we breathe. It may be helpful to place your hand over your stomach to be sure you are doing this step correctly (as the hand on your stomach should rise during this step). 4. Pause before you start to exhale by saying a word like "relax" to yourself. 5. Exhale slowly through your nose (instead of your mouth). As you exhale, slowly pull your diaphragm (or stomach) in. This is the opposite of what our diaphragm normally does when we breathe. Again, it may be helpful to place your hand over your stomach to be sure you are doing this step correctly (as the hand on your stomach should fall during this step). 6. Pause again by saying a word like "relax" to yourself and continue to inhale and exhale as described. Respiratory control should be practiced each time you feel your anxiety rising (as it can be just as helpful as taking a fast acting anxiety medication). I recommend practicing respiratory control for a minimum of (a combined) 30 minutes per day. You may have to put a lot of effort into practicing respiratory control correctly at first. However, the more you practice it, the easier it will become. Once mastered, this is a coping skill that you can use without anyone else knowing you are practicing it.