The Montfort Group

Coping With Anxiety

I have early memories of what I now understand as a need to cope with anxiety.

At 4 or 5 years old, I had a nightly routine. My mother or grandmother put me to bed and after perhaps ten minutes, I began to feel antsy, uncomfortable and a little afraid. Of what, I’m not sure. It didn’t take long before I couldn’t stand lying in bed any longer and would go to the top of the stairs and call for my mom. Up she would come, understandably irritated, and put me back to bed. There was something about the ritual of calling her back – even if I knew she would be mad – that enabled me to settle down. Some nights I bounced my head on the pillow until I was tired enough to fall asleep. Other nights I simply sat at the top of the stairs, listening to the adults converse in soothing tones that relaxed me enough to go back to bed.

Fear

As an older child, I found ways to soothe myself – reading childhood books, slipping my transistor radio under my pillow so I could listen to “talk” radio, opening the curtains so that more light could shine into my room. The anxiety reached a peak in adolescence when after a very bad case of stomach flu, I developed a phobia of vomiting and with it came more rituals – flushing the toilet with my foot, rinsing my mouth with Scope after school every afternoon all to escape the germs that could make me sick. The hum of that fear was always with me. Sounds bizarre, doesn’t it?

Living with Anxiety

The phobia faded with adulthood but surfaced again after the birth of two children who, as fate would have it, were professional pukers. It seemed that any stomach virus circling the neighborhood made a pit stop at our house. I could handle cleaning up after my kids and lie with them when they were sick but the prospect of catching the flu sent me into orbit. One day after a bout of this, my grandmother suggested I seek therapy. “Dearie,” she said, “you don’t have to live your life this way.” I cried with relief because I knew she was right. Living with anxiety can be hell.

And so began my work with a therapist who became an anchor of safety and reassurance as we explored root causes for my phobia which traveled into family and relationships. I learned that while my fears may have been irrational, they were not ridiculous; that I could overcome the tight grip of fear and to ask for help when I needed it. In addition to good therapy, breathing became my go-to remedy in those moments of overwhelm and stress while juggling the balls of career, motherhood, wifedom and all things in between. With time, hard work and mindfulness, I learned how to manage my anxiety instead of it managing me.

Breathe

For all the medications available today, breath work continues to be a powerful way to induce calm under a number of circumstances. In fact, Resonant breathing, derived from the ancient yoga practice, has recently shown to be an effective and simple tool for coping with anxiety and depression. Described as slow, rhythmic breathing, the technique works to balance the sympathetic and parasympathetic nervous systems, by employing gentle, regular breaths at a rate of 5 -6 per minute. New York psychiatrists Patricia Gerbarg and Richard Brown, use the technique, in addition to therapy, with positive results on survivors of trauma and global disasters. It has also been used in treating veterans. According to Dr. Gerbarg, “The calm, even breaths send messages of safety which reduces anxious or depressive thoughts and allows more loving and sociable emotions to emerge.” 1

Yes, coping with anxiety can be hell but it doesn’t have to keep you stuck! There are still times when I may still get triggered for a variety of reasons but I don’t stay locked in fear. Breathwork is a tool I can access any time and brings speedy relief when needed. I have also successfully shared it with many of my clients suffering from anxiety who report it helps to relax and calm. While it is not the only tool or course of action, when paired with good therapy, breathing allows us to respond to the fears that hijack us.

To learn more about the benefits of resonant breathing and how it can help contact The Montfort Group in Plano today.

 

 

Laurie Poole, MS, LPC

Laurie Poole, MS, LPC

Laurie is a Licensed Professional Counselor with her Masters of Science in Counseling from Southern Methodist University in Dallas, TX. She is also a graduate of McGill University in Montreal. She received advanced practical training in Emotionally Focused Therapy for couples and families at UT Southwestern, where she spent five years in the Department of Psychiatry’s Family Studies Clinic working with diverse clients of all ages. In addition, she has completed training in Collaborative Law for couples seeking divorce to find solutions in a more amicable way.

Schedule Online

It's easy to set up an appointment with us - see what's available now!

Our Blog

Therapy thoughts