Soft belly breathing is saving my ass right now.
Last night I went for the skin biopsies I’d been putting off since August. I’ve had plenty of them in the past so I know they’re no big deal, but for some reason I just couldn’t make myself do these two. Every time the appointment rolled up on the calendar, I got increasingly anxious until two days before when I finally cancelled it so I didn’t have to worry about it for another month.
In the past, before going to the dentist or dermatologist or any other potentially painful and annoying appointment, I’d have a glass of wine or two to take the edge off. And then when I got home I’d have a glass of wine or two to reward myself for getting through it.
Drunken Little Birdie reminded me that I had gin on the counter and that there were several liquor stores on the way to the appointment.
Sigh. Drunken Little Birdie is not helpful.
So I laid down on the sofa and practiced soft belly breathing for a bit and accidentally took a two hour nap.
If you’ve never tried soft belly breathing, you really should give it a go. It’s something they teach in yoga classes but you don’t need anything fancy – just your belly, lungs, and somewhere to sit or lie down.
When you were a baby, your belly expanded and contracted with your breath. Later on in life you were taught to suck your belly in so you don’t look fat, and you start breathing from your chest instead of your belly. The result is that you walk around breathing backwards and oxygen deprived most of the time.
When you practice soft belly breathing, all you need to do is become aware of where you’re breathing from. Sit or lie down, place a hand on your belly, and take a deep breath. Notice where the breath goes. Is your chest moving, or is your belly moving? Where else does your breath go? Just get curious and explore it.
After a few breaths, focus on expanding your belly when you inhale, and then pushing your breath out from your belly when you exhale. When you inhale, think “soft,” and when you exhale, think “belly.”
You might notice that your breathing naturally slows down. You can intentionally lengthen your breaths or set a timer – really whatever works for you.
While I was waiting for my dermatologist to come in with her needles and scalpels, I practiced soft belly breathing and was fine until she mentioned something about one of my spots looking like squamous cell “but don’t worry about it at all it’s probably nothing we’re just being proactive.”
Anxiety Bird sat on my shoulder and laughed, knowing she would get to have fun with me until my lab results come back. She was already encouraging me to go straight to Google when I got home.
(I did not Google.)
When I got home, I did so much soft belly breathing.
And I logged Day 3 sober.
Maybe soft belly breathing repels Drunken Little Birdie and Anxiety Bird with all of its whooshing and air inhaling.