Every now and then I get what I call “phantom anxiety”. It’s anxiety that seems to come out of nowhere for no reason.
Last night I had that happen as I was preparing dinner. I love to cook and preparing new dishes thrills me. So there was no reason for me to start feeling what I started to feel.
But at some point I noticed this creeping feeling of impending doom and the racing heart that goes with it. And I asked myself, ‘Why are you feeling anxious?’
It took only a minute for me to realize that as I was standing there chopping vegetables, I had constricted my breathing to a short shallow breath that I felt primarily in my chest.
That’s my first clue and generally the main reason that phantom anxiety strikes—my breathing.
If you only remember one thing this entire day, remember this: Breath Precedes Mood.
Breath Precedes Mood
How you’re breathing will affect how you’re feeling. Short shallow breaths create heightened feelings of excitement and/or agitation and can lead to feeling anxious.
While long, slow, deep breaths lead to calm, peaceful feelings.
In the meantime, the next time you feel phantom anxiety strike you, take a minute to notice how you’re breathing.
Then take a slow deep breath. Breathe deep enough to feel your belly expand. Then hold your breath in for a second.
Then exhale completely. You should feel your belly pull back toward your spine to know that you’ve emptied out all the air. Take twice as long to exhale as you did to inhale.
If it helps, inhale to a count of 2 and exhale to a count of 4.
Then hold your breath out for two seconds. Keep breathing in this way three to five more times or however long you need to until you feel your anxiety subside.
It worked for me last night so that I could get back to enjoying preparing my new recipes.
I hope it works for you as well.