Anxiety is a common symptom experienced by men in the early stages of recovery. As the brain adjusts to living without drugs and alcohol, anxiety is a natural response. Mind altering substances change the way areas of the brain and body function. For example, the amygdala, which corresponds with the nervous system, are affected. One of the core functions of this relationship between the amygdala and the nervous system is regulating the fight or flight response. Without drugs and alcohol, this response can go into overdrive, causing regular bouts of anxiety. Often, men are uneducated about how normal experiencing anxiety in early recovery is. Many men mismanage their anxiety, which leads to more problems in their recovery. Anxiety experiences can be managed in different ways, one of the most effective being breathwork.
When the sympathetic nervous system takes flight, everything in the brain and body speed up. Breathing slows everything back down, including the sympathetic nervous system. As breathing slows down the sympathetic nervous system, it also turns up action on the parasympathetic nervous system, which further helps things slow down.
Mind Body Green describes a breathing technique proven to help activate the parasympathetic nervous system through intentional breathing.
- Take a seated position or lie down on the floor. A warning with relaxation on the floor- you may fall asleep, which isn’t always a problem if you have time for a nap.
- Connect to the ground beneath you.
- Place your hands on your stomach.
- Slowly, inhale deeply in through your nose.
- Notice how your belly expands, raising your hands as the lungs fill with air.
- Once you’ve reached capacity, begin to exhale through the mouth.
- Notice how your hands fall and sense the decompression happening beneath them.
- Keep your exhale slow and calm, trying to double the time it took to inhale.
Breathing techniques are most effective when practiced regularly instead of on the spot. Regularly activating the parasympathetic nervous system helps the brain remain more calm more often and actually combat the experience of anxiety from onsetting.
Tree House Recovery in Portland, Oregon offers men a way to find freedom from addiction. Call us today for information on our addiction treatment programs for men: (503) 850-2474