A little over a year ago I was diagnosed with a heart condition that can result in dramatic increases to my heart rate. There is a little blip in my heart that has the tendency to "over fire". There are times when I can feel it racing and others I just feel the tightness from it. When I can feel my heart pounding, I like to practice thinking of my beach and the days spent relaxing in the sun. (Thoughts of the beach are also what I think about when my pain is trying to take control, when I'm feeling anxious or even triggered.)
So...yesterday when I got to the doctors, the nurse attached the blood pressure cuff and the clip on my finger that measures my oxygen levels and heart rate. As soon as the clip was in place, my heart rate measured a beating of 101 beats/min...it was pumping! My oxygen levels were pretty good and registered 96%. As I sat there waiting for the doctor...my heart rate went up as my pain flared. When my heart rate reached 103 beats/min...I had to do something.
I knew my body felt good when I did my visualization exercises but to see the proof in the pudding so to speak...watching my heart rate lower and my oxygen rise...I was still surprised. And the more I gave in to my surprise? well my numbers changed. My heart rate went back up and my oxygen lowered. Guess what I did then? yep! my thoughts went back to the beach. And the numbers lowered again.
I'm sharing this with you as a way to say...slow down...take a deep breath...think of something that makes you smile...something that feels good...and let your body relax. Your thoughts can do this for you...but you have to try. Even when feeling anxious...this can work. Even when feeling triggered by PTSD...this can work. Even when feeling your pain...this can work. Will you try it?
What can you think about while you focus on your breathing?
- Do you have a special spot that is instantly calming? a work shop? a garden? the beach?
- What smells can you remember? Do you smell fresh baked bread? The smell of your flowers?
- What sights come to your mind? What can you see when you're in your special spot?
- What does your spot sound like? Do you hear birds? The waves crashing? Trees rustling?
When you need...focus on your breathing...deep and slow...in and out. Close your mind off to everything else around you and just let your mind go to where it needs to be soothed, comforted, and relaxed. You can do this for you and it can help. Remember the sights, the sounds, the smells, and even how things feel...remember and let your breathing relax you.
There are things we can do for us when we need it most...and although this exercise takes time and it takes practice...will you try it for you?