How do you breathe to calm down anxiety?
Riding around in the Junior Hunters Under Saddle as a kid, I remember all the people placed all around the rail just whispering to me "Breathe" as I rode by.  They already had put Vaseline on my front teeth so my smile would be there but the breathing they had to keep telling me, over and over.  I would hold my breath.  I would continue to hold my breath.  I would almost pass out holding my breath.  Why?  I was so afraid.  When fear creeps in, we hold our breath or the other extreme of hyperventilating (which I used to do when I have to have blood drawn).  
The great thing about learning breathing techniques is that they work for just about everything.  They can be practiced sitting on your couch or front porch.  You can gradually introduce them to areas in your life that bring you anxiety (or even just visualize those things and use breathing to calm down).  Here are my favorites:
1. Ferris Wheel Breathing - so many people talk about box breathing but I like to picture a Ferris wheel with breathing in, going up and then exhaling while going down and just picturing that circle as even as possible.  The reason I like this better is it gives me more things to focus on.  I can visualize the Ferris wheel as I am breathing.  When I am visualizing and breathing circular, a feeling of calm comes over me.  If you don't like Ferris wheels, you can use a Carousel.  These are both great for really slowing and calming the breathing.
2. Hum, Talk, or Sing.   Sing a song.  Hum a song.  Whatever is your favorite for vocalizing.  You can't hold your breath and do any of these things.  Singing a song is my favorite since I also have to think about the words.  The brain can't be focused on fear and focused on the words to a song at the same time.  Even something like 99 bottles of beer on the wall is good because you have to think of the numbers while singing and breathing.  
3. Play a game like "I'm taking a trip and I pack...." or "I Spy".  Play games that you have to talk with your horse.  I even like the “I am taking a trip” and I pack something and then something my horse would pack, like carrots, back and forth.  So much fun and you can't hold your breath while talking and playing a game out loud. The "I Spy" has the added benefit of having you keep your eyes up and your focus on where you are going. Here is a video I did sharing how I play the games:  Check out the video!
 Play with your breathing and see what works best for you.  You can do this sitting at home and play with it until it feels natural and then start introducing it when you feel your anxiety coming up.  
If you liked the ideas, here are some ideas for other games to play with your horses!   Get Energy Games Here!


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