Overcome Anxiety with the 7-11 Breathing Technique

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by Melody Fletcher on May 29, 2012

 

I’ve got something short and sweet for you today, but potentially very powerful. After my recent post on overcoming suffering, in which I described how I released a panic attack, one of my regular awesome readers, Junay, sent me a technique which she’s successfully used on herself and others to overcome anxiety almost instantly. From an energetic perspective, this technique is sound – it will completely distract you from whatever is causing the anxiety, as well as physically calm you down.

So, if you regularly suffer from anxiety or panic attacks, this post is for you:

Breathe from your stomach

Do not breathe from your chest area, as this may well increase your anxiety. Often, during panic attacks, the chest will tighten, making it hard to breathe and even causing chest pains that will mimic a heart attack. Breathing from the chest will make you MORE aware of these symptoms, causing your panic to increase.

You can ensure that you’re breathing from your abdomen, by placing your hand or hands over your belly button and feeling the rise and fall of your stomach.

The Basics: Breathe 7-11

Breathe in for the count of 7.

Breathe out slowly of the count of 11.

Rinse and repeat.

After a while, you won’t really have to count anymore.  Just remember that the OUT breath has to be longer that the IN breath.

Once you have the basic technique down, you can move on to the next step.

The visualization

As you breathe out, say the following to yourself slowly and calmly, in a very loving soothing voice:

“Everything Down.

Everything Down.

It’s ok.

It’s ok.”

While you do this, imagine blue arrows pointing towards your feet.

Then tell yourself:

“This will pass. This will pass.”

Next, in your mind’s eye, imagine an electrical strip with all the plugs unplugged and say or think “Good….everything has shut down.” Make sure you’re breathing very slowly when you say this (quick short breaths can increase anxiety, while exhaling with long, slow breaths calms the  whole body down.)

Once you get used to this technique, you’ll be able to get into the rhythm of the breathing almost instantly.  It takes about 2 weeks of repetition for it to kick in; do it regularly (up to 3-4 times per day), and you may be surprised to learn your breathing in this manner will become automatic. Breathing deeply has been shown to lower blood pressure dramatically and according to Junay, this particular breathing technique can reduce anxiety very, very quickly.

Give it a try and let us know how it goes. What techniques do you use to overcome anxiety or pain? Share in the comments!

{ 20 comments }

Brian May 29, 2012 at 21:07

Thanks for sharing this technique, Melody! Usually i use the “relaxation response,” that is very similar to the 7-11 and also puts emphasis on the deep belly breathing. Main effect is, it switches from the sympathicus (fight–flight response, keeping one awake and alert, raising blood pressure etc.) to the parasympaticus (sleep, digestion, renewal of body tissue) part of the nervous system.

The more one practices, the better results he will get. At any time the switching itself becomes sort of a reflex. Furthermore, it’s easy to adapt it to one’s personal preferences.

Melody Fletcher May 29, 2012 at 22:04

Thanks for the physiological explanation Brian! That’s awesome.

Huge happy shiny puppy hugs!

Melody
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shibani July 17, 2012 at 13:12

this is interesting, the changing of nervous responses ! makes sense too.
the whole ‘breathing’ in yoga has to do with switching on the ‘relaxation’ in your system that means i guess !

Elle May 29, 2012 at 22:01

I too have used a variation of this deep breathing technique. So glad it worked for you Melody. It’s been really helpful to me for diminishing pain. Not forgetting good old EFT.
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Melody Fletcher May 29, 2012 at 22:06

Hey Elle,

Once I found out that breathing is a way to release negative energy, I started to experiment with it. I noticed in shamanic ceremonies, when the resistance would come up, I could lessen the discomfort a lot by breathing through it. There’s a reason they tell women in labor to breathe, lol…

Huge hugs!
Melody
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Mary Carol Moran May 29, 2012 at 23:21

Hi Melody,

Focus on the exhale – that’s the basic principle of breathing when doing yoga. You can mentally say the word “hatha” (as in hatha yoga) with a focus on exhaling on the “ha” and inhaling on the “tha.” We usually say hatha the other way around, and the flipping the syllables helps remind us to focus on the out-breath.

Another technique I like a lot is one I found in a book by Taoist nuns. You inhale up the back of your spine, imagining fire. Then you exhale down the front of your torso, imagining cool water. This circular breathing technique calms me instantly. I’ve even used it when stuck in a traffic jam! And it works great for falling asleep.

What a great idea to do a post on breathing! Thank you! Deep breathing heart hugs,

Mary Carol
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Melody Fletcher May 30, 2012 at 13:55

Thanks for sharing Mary Carol. There are so many great breathing techniques out there to help us focus and calm us down. I find that focusing on my breathing brings me in the moment, the NOW, very, very quickly.

I’m going to try the nun technique the next time I have trouble sleeping.

Huge hugs!
Melody
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Glynis Jolly May 30, 2012 at 01:43

Well, that explained a lot for me. I have General Anxiety Disorder. It’s a ‘side benefit’ from my disability. The strange thing is I have never had an ‘attack’ per se. Now I know why. Before I became disabled, I played the flute. This required me to learn how to breathe from my diaphragm instead of from my lungs. I played the flute for 8 years so breathing from the diaphragm became very natural to me. Presto, no attacks dispite the fact that I have the disorder.
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Melody Fletcher May 30, 2012 at 13:58

Hey Glynis,

That’s wonderful! I spent a lot of years singing, and I’ve also always found it very easy to breathe from my stomach. I fact, I generally do. There was a time when I suffered from panic attacks, though. Only, I didn’t know any of this stuff back then, at least not to the degree that I do now. I didn’t know the power of breathing or how to let go. But, I think that those attacks REALLY made me want to figure all that out. And that got me to where I am today. :)

Isn’t it wonderful how playing the flute set you up so perfectly to have the skills you need today?

Huge hugs!
Melody
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patricia May 30, 2012 at 21:17

I have one daughter who has severe anxiety attacks…and I worked to teacher relaxed breathing but this is even simpler…Thank you I will pass it on

It works also when the old worry bug raises it’s wings to fly
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Melody Fletcher May 31, 2012 at 00:13

Great Patricia! I’d love to hear how it goes. :)

Huge hugs!
Melody
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Katy Lowe May 31, 2012 at 16:48

Glad you took the time to post this…as while I don’t have panic attacks…I do have bouts of occasional anxiety or worry, fear, upset…you name it. And this process is kind of like a ‘mini’ meditation break. Using the 7-11 concept makes you stop and think about it a bit…so you are already taking the focus off the problem. Thanks for this Melody! ?

Melody Fletcher May 31, 2012 at 22:06

You’re so welcome Katy. It was actually Junay’s doing, I just spruced it up a bit. :) I love it when people share something that works. We’re all in this together, after all…

Huge hugs!
Melody
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Jodi @ Heal Now and Forever June 2, 2012 at 01:23

I think counting and breathing together is great because is is distracting. I like the breathe in for 5, hold for 5, out for 5, then two regular breaths. You have to concentrate on the pattern and this helps. Sometimes breathing alone is not enough!

Melody Fletcher June 2, 2012 at 15:05

Hey Jodi,

Absolutely! It’s the focus on the breathing that makes this work. It’s the distraction from whatever is causing the anxiety. You can’t have two thoughts at once, so if you focus with intensity on something deliberate, you automatically deactivate whatever thought was causing the panic. Breathing deeply does cause us to calm down, but without the focus, the panic will win out.

Huge hugs for you!

Melody

Arjhae Nicol June 14, 2012 at 12:07

How funny that its really works! I keep on repeating this one and now I’m ready! But the big question for me is, “When can I feel panic again?”. Hahaha But now I knew what to do next.

Melody Fletcher June 14, 2012 at 18:07

Hey Arjhae,

As you prove to yourself that you can release the panic attack when it comes, that you can deliberately focus in a way that makes you feel better, you will have less and less fear of the attacks coming. It takes a little bit of time and practice, but it’ll get easier each time you apply the technique (and you don’t have to wait for an attack to do that…).

Huge hugs!
Melody
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Alice December 4, 2012 at 06:43

I’m having huge panic attacks that this is all fake, as things aren’t getting better and this is false hope and I can’t prove it real with some manifestation.

I’m really freaked out that this is fake, and not real and I’ll be stuck in my life forever.

I can’t stop that panic, this takes too much faith.

Melody Fletcher December 10, 2012 at 18:37

Moments like that are quite normal in the beginning, Alice. You’re moving out of one very entrenched way of looking at the world into a very different one. That causes a bit of stress. But hang in there.

My advice here would be to just go and take a nap, meditate, go for a walk, do anything that feels good and will distract you. Playing video games, whatever. Just relax a bit and the fear will pass. It diminishes over time, it really does.

Huge hugs,

Melody
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Janko December 12, 2013 at 13:58

Hi Melody,

i have anxiety last two months and problem with short and fast breathing with mouth.
I feel like a fish on ground. My friend suggest me breathing 7-11-11. He told me breathe all you air out, then breathe in for seven seconds through your nose. Hold your breath for 11 seconds, then breathe out slowly through your mouth for 11 seconds. Repeat this several times, and do it many times every day. What do you think about this breathing? This trains your lungs to breathe out for longer than you breathe in, which really helps anxiety and breathlessness. It also increases the capacity of your lungs. Try to breathe with your stomach muscles not just your chest.

thanks!

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