I can't get enough of Stanford Neuroscientist Dr Andrew Huberman's research. It really supports many of the strategies I use with clients to help with their anxiety and panic attacks.
For example, meditation and breathing exercises can help people to teach their nervous systems "to be comfortable in uncomfortable states" (Dr Andrew Huberman), putting their brain in an optimal state to function.
The trouble is, so many say they don't have time to do this. However, research shows that the recommended 'dose' for meditation/breathing exercises is just 13 minutes a day. Check out Dr Huberman's fascinating video here.
Too often we find an excuse to avoid making any changes, and the most common excuse is ‘I don’t have the time’. Stop procrastinating and use the new day for a new way of being. You can do this by getting up 10 minutes earlier than usual, and using that extra time to follow these ten steps -
1. Find a quiet corner of your home (even the bathroom!)
2. Use that quiet corner to settle your attention to each breath as it comes in through your nose, and out through your lips
3. Adopt a sense of curiosity to each breath, and just notice it.
4. Don’t feel you need to change the natural rhythm, you are simply using each breath as an anchor to the present moment
5. If your mind starts to wander, that is okay, just bring it back to your breathing.
6. If you notice strong emotions rising up, just acknowledge them, and return your focus to your breathing.
7. The more you can gain a sense of distance from your thoughts and emotions, the more choice you will have over how to respond to them
8. As you notice each breath you will start to calm your mind and body, and thus helps to reduce the cortisol levels in your body (the stress hormone).
9. Studies show that the long-term build up of cortisol is responsible for heart disease, weight gain, high blood pressure, and a greater risk of a stroke.
10. Repeat this process as many times as you need, so you fill the whole of that extra 10 minutes you have given yourself.
Studies show that levels of cortisol (the stress hormone) reduce after a course of mindfulness and meditation. It only takes a handful of minutes to do, so why not make this part of your morning ritual, so you can wake up to better mental health. I have some free mindfulness and meditation exercises on my website, so why not start with these? I hope you find this useful.
Chris Warren-Dickins LLB MA LPC
Psychotherapist (Licensed Professional Counselor)
Ridgewood, New Jersey