Anxiety & Learning how to breath

Anxiety & Learning how to breath

I have been dealing with anxiety and racing thoughts for at least 16 years now. Around the age of 22 I was prescribed anti-depression/anti-anxiety medications. I hated them, I did not like being a zombie. The withdrawals when you try to get off of them were even worst. I wound up taking about 4 different medications for a little over a year before deciding to get off medications completely and search for better answers.

Since then its been up and down for many years trying to figure things out. Most of the time I feel great, but from time to time I can really let my mind wander and its causes anxiety to flare up. So what do we do about it? Its time to fight back and take control little by little.

As I would read and research I remember there was always an article that would pop up mentioning “breathing” or “regulating your breathing” or “learn to meditate”. Finally it sunk in… Why is there always a recommendation to learn how to breath to reduce anxiety and why is learning how to breath so important?

Quick Answers
During a panic attack normally caused from anxiety, we over breath or hyperventilate causing a flood of oxygen into our system. This overflow of oxygen along with quick shallow breathing will trigger our panic receptors. Breathing properly or using breathing techniques can help us regulate our heart rate and allow our body’s to relax.

Long Answers
Most people aren’t really conscious of the way they’re breathing, but generally, there are two types of breathing patterns:

  1. Chest (Thoracic) breathing
  2. Belly (Diaphragm/Abdominal) breathing

Chest Breathing
When we are anxious or experiencing a panic attack we tend to take rapid, shallow breaths that come directly from the chest. This area of the upper chest is where the panic receptors live. This type of breathing is called thoracic or chest breathing.

Belly Breathing
This is when the inhale of your breath causes the belly to stick out rounded. Then as you exhale the belly goes to a normal resting position. The diaphragm is where your calming receptors are located so our belly breathing tells your body to calm down. The more we exercise this diaphragm area the better and more effective your breathing will be when we need it.

There are many other benefits that belly breathing can have such as:

  • It helps you relax, lowering the harmful effects of the stress hormone cortisol on your body.
  • It lowers your heart rate.
  • It helps lower your blood pressure.
  • It strengthens the diaphragm and lungs.
  • It improves your core muscle stability.
  • It improves your body’s ability to tolerate intense exercise.
  • It allows air/oxygen to fill other deeper spaces of your lungs
  • It slows your rate of breathing so that it expends less energy.
  • It reduces stress
  • It is a basic meditation breathing pattern
How to Belly Breath

Try This Test
Let see where you are breathing from, the chest or the tummy. Put your left hand on your chest and your right hand on your belly, which is just below your rib cage above your belly button. Then breathe how you normally would breathe. Are you breathing from the chest are or you breathing correctly from your diaphragm.

Why is it important to strengthen the lungs?
If we look at a photo of your heart we can notice that our heart has a direct connection to the lungs. This is something unique to our system, no other organ has a direct connection to the heart. Just looking at that photo says “bad lungs bad heart”. Also in Eastern medicine if the lungs are unhealthy it will overflow to the liver.

Your First Breathing Exercise
This video below is Wim Hof and he is a master of breathing. If you can learn this breathing technique, I think it will change the way you feel about breathing exercises. It is extremely powerful and can cause you to pass out so be careful and lay down when attempting for your first few tries. Its very intense and its proven to create an Alkaline environment inside your body from all the oxygen you will bring in. You will be left feeling charged and renewed. Its hard work, but its worth it.

Learn from the master himself Wim Hof

Tummo (Fire) Breathing
See the video below this paragraph or use the above link. Tummo is a little more advanced version of the video above. It shows how to sink your breath into your diaphragm. This in my favorite technique and its has been a huge relief for me when I’m experiencing anxiety. I will go between the basic Wim Hoff breathing and Tummo breathing on a daily basis.

Some Philosophy
Dr Phil said somewhere that if you keep taking withdrawals from your bank and never put in any deposits… you will find your self broke. Same goes for your body, if you are not depositing or investing into your body and all you do is take withdrawals… One day your body will be broke. Breathing exercises strengthens the lungs and energizes your body to be more under your control. Learning how to work our bodies and unlock its potentials.

One interesting belief in Eastern Medicine is that you only get so many breaths in our lifetime. The more control we have over that expenditure the better we can control of our thoughts.

My Opinions
Mastering your Anxious mind… The cure isn’t overnight and its not going to be easy. It’s going to take an accumulation of changes that then result as the reward. Actions create results. Good Actions = Good Results.

If you want to make a difference in your life, don’t do the same things you did yesterday that caused failure. Today we push ourselves to do the things that might have been once considered too difficult. Overcome and adapt, don’t sit and wait for the fix, get off the couch and find happiness.

I do believe that breathing and breathing exercises are one of the keys to solving your anxious mind. Stop looking to the future and live now in this moment. Comfort is addicting, get uncomfortable and explore who you are and experience why we feel certain ways. Breathing will allow you to relax, work on your health and be a better more focused human in life. Lets do this.

More Info and Breathing Technique Resources:

He has trained Jiu Jitsu under Master Rickson Gracie
Interesting story with Wim Hoff

Latest Science Debunks Claim That Marijuana Significantly Harms Brain

Latest Science Debunks Claim That Marijuana Significantly Harms Brain

By Paul Armentano, Truthout Published March 20, 2019

Claims that cannabis use is associated with lower cognitive functioning are largely based upon the findings of a single longitudinal study. The paper, published by Madeline Meier and a team of Duke University researchers in 2012, reported that the onset of cannabis use in early adolescence was associated with an average decline of eight IQ points by middle-age.

However, a critique of Meier’s study, published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, opined that the reported differences in IQ were consistent with socioeconomic differences among the study’s participants and likely were not attributable to marijuana use. (This criticism is hardly surprising as data has historically shown that those of greater economic means tend to test higher on IQ tests than those who are poorer, and critics have also raised questions as to whether the test itself may possess inherent racial biases.) It countered that the Duke team likely “overestimate[d]” the impact of marijuana on IQ and opined that the “true effect [of cannabis exposure] could be zero.”

This criticism is given additional merit by the fact that several later and better controlled studies have failed to replicate Meier’s initial findings. For example, a British study of more than 2,000 teens reported that cannabis exposure prior to the age of 15 “did not predict either lower teenage IQ scores or poorer educational performance … once adjustment is made for potential confounds.”

Researchers at the University of Southern California, Los Angeles, and at the University of Minnesota similarly assessed the potential relationship between cannabis and IQ in two longitudinal investigations of adolescent twins. They reported: “We find little evidence to suggest that adolescent marijuana use has a direct effect on intellectual decline…. The lack of a dose–response relationship, and an absence of meaningful differences between discordant siblings lead us to conclude that the deficits observed in marijuana users are attributable to confounding factors that influence both substance initiation and IQ rather than a neurotoxic effect of marijuana.”

In fact, even Meier appears to concede this point in her later work. Writing in the journal Addiction in 2018, she and her colleagues acknowledged: “Short-term cannabis use in adolescence does not appear to cause IQ decline or impair executive functions, even when cannabis use reaches the level of dependence. Family background factors explain why adolescent cannabis users perform worse on IQ and executive function tests.”

Most recently, a new study published in The Lancet being widely publicized this week claims that an estimated 30 to 50 percent of psychosis cases in Europe are due to cannabis exposure. However, this study does not establish causation, nor could it because of the observational nature of its design. In fact, the authors clearly state in the abstract that they are “assuming causality.” Given the fact that such a cause-and-effect relationship is yet unproven and there is no consensus among experts that such causation exists, this would appear to be a troubling leap for the authors to take and it should not go unnoticed. Moreover, it is well established that those with psychiatric illness typically use all intoxicants at greater rates than the general public, so the fact that those admitted to institutions for first-episode psychosis are more likely to consume cannabis than are those in the general population is hardly surprising. But it is not evidence that marijuana in any way causes the condition. Finally, the fact that cannabis has been used by various populations for decades at disparate rates, yet rates of psychosis and other psychiatric disorders have generally remained static over this same period of time, strongly argues against a direct causal relationship.

The Developing Brain

While the use of alcohol has been unequivocally associated with deleterious effects on brain morphology in both adults and adolescents, claims that cannabis exposure significantly damages the developing brain are far less persuasive.

Specifically, a team of University of Colorado investigators in 2017 assessed the impact of marijuana exposure and alcohol ingestion on brain structure in groups of adults and adolescents. They reported that, “Alcohol use severity is associated with widespread lower grey matter volume and white matter integrity in adults, and with lower grey matter volume in adolescents.” (Changes in white matter are associated with the onset of certain neurodegenerative diseases while grey matter contains most of the brain’s neurons.) By contrast, “no associations were observed between structural measures and past 30-day cannabis use in adults or adolescents.”

In 2018, researchers from the University of Pennsylvania, Perlman School of Medicine performed a systematic review of 69 studies (published between the years 1973 and 2017) assessing the relationship between adolescent cannabis use and cognition. Researchers reported no significant long-term deficits in memory, attention or other aspects of cognitive functioning that could be independently attributed to cannabis use, regardless of subjects’ age of initiation.

They concluded that, “Associations between cannabis use and cognitive functioning in cross-sectional studies of adolescents and young adults are small and may be of questionable clinical importance for most individuals…. [R]esults indicate that previous studies of cannabis in youth may have overstated the magnitude and persistence of cognitive deficits associated with [marijuana] use.”

Most recently, University of Pennsylvania researchers compared brain scans of adolescents who used cannabis occasionally (one to two times per week) and frequently (more than three times per week) versus matched controls (similarly aged teens who abstained from the plant). They concluded, “There were no significant differences by cannabis group in global or regional brain volumes, cortical thickness, or gray matter density, and no significant group by age interactions were found…. In sum, structural brain metrics were largely similar among adolescent and young adult cannabis users and non-users.”

Long-Term Exposure

While some have theorized that marijuana exposure over the long term may be associated with an adverse impact on the brain, clinical assessments of frequent cannabis consumers challenge concerns. For instance, cumulative lifetime cannabis exposure is not associated with deficits in cognitive performance following drug abstinence.

Long-term exposure is also not associated with changes in working memory. In a 2015 Canadian clinical trial assessing the safety of daily cannabis consumption, users demonstrated no identifiable differences in neurocognitive skills compared to non-using controls. These findings were similar to those of a U.S. trial assessing the health of four Compassionate IND patients (federally authorized medical marijuana consumers) who had smoked cannabis daily for a period of up to 27 years. Authors concluded that, “No consistent or attributable neuropsychological or neurological deterioration has been observed.”

Most recently, University of Colorado scientists compared magnetic resonance imaging scans in 28 cannabis users over the age of 60 versus matched controls. Cannabis-consuming participants in the study, on average, had used marijuana weekly for 24 years. The authors reported that long-term cannabis exposure “does not have a widespread impact on overall cortical volumes while controlling for age” despite over two decades of regular cannabis use on average. This is in contrast to the large, widespread effects of alcohol on cortical volumes that might be expected to negatively impact cognitive performance.

Facts, Not Fears, Should Guide Marijuana Policy

An estimated one out of five Americans now resides in a jurisdiction where the adult use of cannabis is legally regulated, while more than 30 states have enacted statutes authorizing its medical access. Public support for marijuana policy reform has also steadily increased over the past decade, and now two out of three Americans endorse cannabis legalization. It is time for politicians to reject the unsubstantiated “reefer rhetoric” and fear-mongering of the past and move forward to amend U.S. cannabis laws in response to the emerging science, public opinion and the plant’s rapidly changing cultural status.

Editor’s note: This article was updated on March 20, 2019, to address a study that estimates 30-50 percent of psychosis cases in Europe are due to cannabis exposure.

Caffeine and Anxiety

Caffeine and Anxiety

Sixteen days ago I made a decision to participate in Lent. I have given up things for Lent before, but this year I wanted what I chose to “give up” for 44 days to make a difference in my life. As I began to consider what would be difficult, coffee came to mind. I am a daily coffee drinker, actually an hourly coffee drinker, an every day, all the time coffee drinker . Wow! How did this happen? As I analyzed my daily routine, I was shocked to discover how addicted I had become to coffee.

Actually, drinking coffee was really easy for me. I have a fancy coffee maker that crushes the beans and makes a single cup of coffee on demand. Nice! And about five years ago, my dad upgraded the one pound coffee roaster at work to a six pound coffee roaster, making sure we always have fresh roasted coffee there as well.  And since I work for our family businesses, I am guaranteed fresh roasted coffee! And, if I am desperate, there’s always the handy quick coffee maker with coffee pods as well as the local coffee stores for the quick fix. This dang coffee is everywhere!

Without any further hesitation, the decision was made–I’m not just “giving up” coffee for just this designated period; I am quitting cold turkey right now! However, I had no idea how severe the withdrawal symptoms would be four to five days later, but I was  determined to kick this caffeine habit  to the curb. I really did not realize how adversely the excessive caffeine was affecting my body. I began to consider that perhaps many of the things I was dealing with like anxiety, stress were related to my caffeine consumption. 

Today, at Day 15, my body is quiet. For as long as I can remember, during those coffee days, my body always seemed to be humming at what seemed like a low vibration, but I had become so used to that feeling that it had  become my normal. Because I knew that my decision required discipline and would be difficult, I started a small daily diary of what was going on with my body. The following are the thirteen days of withdrawal and sleeplessness on this journey to better health.

Day 1:  Everything was fine. I just wasn’t sure what to drink instead of coffee. I liked water, but coffee tasted better…and drinking water was not nearly as much fun. Maybe I just liked hot beverages in the morning…maybe?

Day 2:   Getting used to having substitutes for coffee was rough…juice was good, but too much sugar. I started drinking Zevia (a soda substitute), using stevia as a sweetener, no sugar, no caffeine…. tried to eat healthier.

Day 3:  Still looking for things to do when not drinking coffee. Sauna helped me feel better and get my mind off things.

Days 4, 5:  I awoke abruptly at 3 a.m., slightly trembling. ( In Chinese medicine this is known as “liver time,” a state where your liver is “angry.”) After dealing with the sleeplessness, I awoke again to feel as if I were still trembling and began having random, sporadic thoughts like hearing the same thing over and over in my head. I felt anxious and depressed and had difficulty concentrating. Thanks to my brother, I learned that Zevia Colas (not the other Zevia drinks),actually contained caffeine, Whoops! It pays to read the labels! 

Days 6, 7, 8:  Struggling…I was not prepared for this…I was dizzy, couldn’t focus, didn’t want to eat. I was irritable, just not myself (I love my wife for helping me). Water was getting harder and harder to drink. My anxiety kicked into high gear. My cycling thoughts got worse. I started thinking about death and felt I was in the future. The worst part was that I didn’t get tired. I couldn’t get comfortable. I was shaking constantly. I kept sighing and taking deep breaths. I couldn’t sleep. When I did fall asleep, I woke up at 3 a.m. in a full panic attack, shaking uncontrollably with those crazy thoughts.  I thought I was dying. On Day 7 I started to do Tummo breathing to help calm me–huge help, by the way. I stopped taking all supplements because I didn’t want anything to affect my mental state.  Those three days were some of the worst I have ever experienced.

Day 9:  I’m starting to rely on my routine–wake up, drink lots of water (8 to 16 oz.), wait fifteen minutes, then drink a magnesium supplement (Standard Process MG supplement) with 8 oz. of water.  This routine is what kept me going in a straight line. I didn’t have time to think about what to do next; the routine just moved me along. After consuming my water, I ate whole foods.  Breakfast has been two eggs sunny side or hardboiled with some butter and toast. Many times I had to force this down because I did not want to eat. 

The water helped flush my system as best it could. Caffeine stays in your body for a long time after consumption. I had been taking in so much caffeine that my system was overloaded. The half life of caffeine is 5-7 hours, which means that half of the caffeine is gone within 5-7 hours; therefore, with 100mg of caffeine, 50mg is digested within 5-7 hours. Then the next 5-7 hours you will digest 25mg, then 12.5mg, then 6.25mg, then 3.125, and 1.5 until it is gone.  This process with 100mg takes approximately 36 hours to complete. I can only assume my caffeine levels were in the thousands.

My biggest source of joy these last few days has been my family, the sauna, and working out. Sweating has been a big answer for me. I am now back on my supplements, including CBD, Magnesium, Turmeric Forte, and Catalyn. (The last three supplements are produced by Standard Process.)

Days 10, 11, 12:  Slowly, day by day, I felt my brain and body coming back under my control. I began to feel hungry. I began to sleep a bit, even relax a bit. When I felt those waves of anxiety, Tummo breathing helped immensely. I kept busy during the days eating as healthy as possible and drinking water. I actually began to fall back in love with water! Guided evening meditations using Headspace helped diminish my anxiety before bedtime. Sleep at this point reminded me of panic attacks causing me to be afraid to relax or sleep. Learning how to control those sporadic thoughts through Headspace allowed me to breath through the waves of emotions and process them correctly. 

Days 13, 14:  I am feeling like a normal person! Water is the best, and I started drinking Kombucha to get some flavor. I am starting to enjoy my breakfast and morning routines. I actually slept comfortably for 6+ hours. My cycling thoughts have diminished and are being replaced with rational thoughts of plans for my future. I am discovering what I am passionate about again. I feel happy and rejuvenated; and from all the Tummo breathing, my lungs feel amazing and strong. 

Day 15:  I can concentrate, and I am able to write this post to share with others and, perhaps, be able to inspire change. I woke up early, feeling fully awake and motivated. I  did my daily routine of water, magnesium, breakfast. And I cannot stand the thought of drinking coffee! I am about 90% today and am getting closer and closer to my goal of feeling good on a regular basis. I am proud of myself, and I want to share my knowledge and experience with others.

Day 16:  I feel great! My body is calm for the first time in a very long time.  I was able to go to my Jiu Jitsu class for the first time since starting this detox. I don’t think I am ever going back to caffeine!

In conclusion, caffeine is a horrible drug with some wicked withdrawal symptoms that need to be addressed in a serious manner.  Throughout this journey, my family was a tremendous source of encouragement and support, as was my friend Dr. Kendall Gregory, who helped me with my supplements and answered my questions. If it weren’t for him, I may have gone to the emergency room during days 6, 7, and 8.  I advise each of you to stop the caffeine now and have a healthier life. 

I have included below some articles about anxiety and caffeine. Caffeine triggers anxiety. The processing of caffeine affects your liver when this anxiety kicks in. The stress kicks in, hitting your body hard, overloading the systems and causing the fight or flight mode. For me, any added stress was breaking me. My family’s history of slow liver function was made worse by caffeine, resulting in unnecessary anxiety. I am going to do all I can to improve my inherent slow liver function through good health choices. Caffeine is done for good, and alcohol will be kept at an absolute minimum.

Anyone wants to chat about it, leave me a comment or email me anytime

More info that relates to this article.