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Sometimes when I am fearful, I hold my breath for a heartbeat, my body literally stops me from breathing. If I think of this logically my reflex action when faced with something scary is to try to kill me! And its not just me, it’s a common reaction – literature is full of moments where the hero, or heroine “catches his breath” or “holds his breath” or “gasps” when faced with a tense situation.

So what’s going on here? When we are fearful our breathing changes; it becomes rapid and shallow, sometimes we forget to breath for a moment. This reduces the amount of oxygen the body is absorbing, which in turn stops us from functioning effectively. We unconsciously sabotage our physical ability to overcome our fear and move past what is making us fearful.

When I realise I am doing this, I make a conscious effort to breath slowly and deeply. Deep breathing is one of the best and simplest ways of combating fear.

You can practice deep breathing in none stress situations, to help you overcome this physical reaction to fear and stress:

As you inhale through your nose, feel like you’re breathing way down into your stomach. As you inhale, put your hand on your stomach, and feel it expand. You should feel your stomach getting “fat” because you’re lowering your diaphragm.

Make sure to keep your shoulders down as you inhale. Otherwise, you’re actually just breathing shallowly in your upper chest. Inhale for a slow count of five.

As you exhale, feel like you’re sewing your rib cage together or like you’re pulling your navel into your spine. Exhale for a slow count of five also.

To strengthen the effect of deep breathing even further, try a simple visualisation technique at the same time. As you inhale, imagine breathing in positive thoughts and images. As you exhale, expel all the fear from your mind and body. Think:

Inhale gratitude. Exhale worry.

Inhale joy. Exhale anxiety.

Inhale peace. Exhale terror.

Inhale relaxation. Exhale tension.

Inhale confidence. Exhale fear.

For more help and advice on how to deal with the fears holding you back, contact me for a free focus session.