Summer means endless social activities, both for yourself and your kids. Don’t let social anxiety keep you from enjoying summer.
Before heading out to one of your summer fun activities, take some time in preparation to relax. Instead of arriving to an event or activity stressed and anxious, take some deep, calming breaths. Practicing relaxation techniques can ease your tensions and help you feel calm before you walk into a situation that typically triggers nervousness.
RFC uses a relaxation tool called: Deep Diaphragmatic Breathing.
It is intended to help you use the diaphragm correctly while breathing to:
- Strengthen the diaphragm
- Decrease the work of breathing by slowing your breathing rate
- Decrease oxygen demand
- Increase oxygen absorption
- Give a calming effect by using less energy to breathe
The diaphragm is the most efficient muscle for breathing. It is a large, dome-shaped muscle located at the base of the lungs. Your abdominal muscles help move the diaphragm. People with anxiety or chronic stress may breathe in a way that may prevent the diaphragm from working effectively.
To breathe diaphragmatically or with the diaphragm, one must draw air into the lungs that will expand the stomach and not the chest. It is best to perform these breaths as long, slow intakes of air through the nose followed by releasing the air through the mouth. This allows the body to absorb all of the inhaled oxygen, while simultaneously relaxing the breather. You can simplify this process by inhaling through your nose for a count of five, and exhaling through your mouth for a count of five. To make sure that you are breathing diaphragmatically, keep your hands on your stomach and feel it inflate and deflate with each deep breath.
Most importantly, practice this when you aren’t anxious or stressed, so that you have this skill readily available to you when it is actually needed. For those with more chronic social anxiety disorder, consider structured cognitive-behavior therapy (CBT), which will help you learn more tools specific to your individual needs.
Above all, TAKE TIME to relax!