MINI-SERIES: SELF CARE FOR ADHD BRAINS
Day 6: Breathwork for stress & social anxiety
I'll be honest, I never understood why people always told me to take deep breaths when I was anxious or stressed. It just didn't seem to do anything. But when I discovered breathwork (which is like yoga for the breath) a lightbulb went off for me and I fell in love with the practice.
I've been practicing breathwork for the past year and experimenting with how it can help my ADHD symptoms, and I've noticed some big changes in my nervous system capacity. Obviously results differ from person to person, but I'm sharing my experience here so you can try them out for yourself and see how they land.
If you're ready to try some breathwork to release tension or anxiety, you can grab your:
- comfort items (cushion, blanket etc)
- eye mask
- phone *on do not disturb*
In your journal: Assess your baseline and compare
Before you begin the breathwork, assess your baseline energy and intensity level based on the scale below. Write it in your journal on page 16. Then after the breathwork, measure again to see the effect in your body.
Insight Timer playlist: breathwork
*The following recordings are freely available on Insight Timer app - I do not have any affiliation and am simply sharing what has worked for me.
Please note that you conduct breathwork at your own risk. It is safe and the practices I've linked are not too intense, but to be on the safe side, you should consult your doctor prior to participating if you're pregnant or have a health condition that might impact, like asthma.
Find a comfortable place to do the breathwork where you won't be disturbed. Let your nervous system guide you, and stop if anything becomes uncomfortable, or do shorter sessions as you acclimatize.
*click images below, and they will open in your Insight App.
1. Mindful nervous system regulation
In this slow-paced guided meditative breathwork practice with Danielle Boyd, you'll take an immersive, sensory journey into nourishing your nervous system with extended breaths and humming sounds on exhales to stimulate the vagus nerve.
This is a 10 min practice, so it's great as a quick break from overwhelm. Danielle also has a 5 min practice here.
2. For low energy, inertia or analysis paralysis
This is an activating breath, so it's a useful breath to move stagnant energy or low mood or paralysis. It is a slightly more advanced breath, so go at a pace you're comfortable with and take breaks or stop if it's too much.
I use this breath when I am in one of those moods where I just don't want to get up off the couch or do anything, but obligation and life calls. You can do the whole guided practice, but once you learn the breath you can also spontaneously do 3-4 rounds before starting any task that you find boring or you avoid (like chores, taxes etc.). The breath oxygenates your system and gives you a kick of energy and positive emotion to begin.
This is an 8 min practice.
3. For social anxiety: 4-7-8
4-7-8 is a slightly more advanced breathing technique that comes from the Sanskrit practice of pranayama. I've found 4-7-8 incredibly helpful for social anxiety and stress relief.
It helps with stress management, anxiety, pain relief, food cravings and improving the quality of sleep.
It involves inhaling for 4 seconds, holding for 7 seconds, and exhaling for 8 seconds.
This is an 11 min practice. Remember to listen to your body and take breaks whenever you need.
Extended Breathwork playlist (all tracks above + others to play and experiment with)
Click the image to access. This includes all tracks above plus others you can experiment and play with as you practice more. Insight Timer also has a 14-day breathwork challenge which you can join via their app for free. Just search in the toolbar at the top.
SELF CARE WORKBOOK