Paul's Heart

Life As A Dad, And A Survivor

Archive for the day “January 28, 2022”

Calming Down. Yes, You Can (And Should).


A traffic jam. A car cuts you off on a highway changing lanes. Blue and red flashing lights appear in your rear view mirror. While backing out of a parking space, your car suffers a sudden thud as you realize you backed into someone.

A dentist appointment. Going to see the doctor. A surgical procedure. A pending diagnosis of a serious illness.

Panic attacks.

A job interview. A first date. Closing on a sale of your house.

These things are all capable of raising your blood pressure and heart rate, for the wrong reasons. And if it happens to often, or lasts too long, it can be a bad thing. As compared to a controlled situation such as exercising. Because during exercise, you are expected to monitor your pulse as you exercise. You also need to be aware of the range of your exercising heart beat range compared to your resting heart beat.

There are a number of different charts to help you figure out what range your heart beat should be in, but it is best to get that information from your doctor or certified trainer.

But what happens when your heart is pounding, or your head feels hot that you feel like a human pressure cooker, because something has upset your or is stressing you out? I have posted before what this could end up like.

This is a picture of a physical stress load on me back in 2008. In full disclosure, this could easily have occurred during one of my stressful issues. But it was a picture after just a few minutes on a treadmill. Further testing would reveal just how close to death I was. As my cardiologist put it, “it was not a question of if, but when” I was going to die.

Yes, bad stress will kill you.

But I want to share something with you, that I feel should help you, and could help you, if you are in any of the above mentioned situations or any other similar to that which would cause a rapid heart beat.

There is no arguing that being in a beautiful setting like this, would clearly help deal with stressful situations, though you are likely as far away as possible to that location. But, with some concentration, not only can you take yourself there mentally, you can take the steps necessary to slow your heart rate down. It is a method that I learned from my therapist many years ago, and in most cases, it has worked. Only in one or two situations, where I was that far into “fight or flight” mode, did it take a bit more effort.

This “exercise” was something taught to me a long time ago, and has helped me in a number of situations, and I am certain that it can help you as well, simply by extending your exhale. This simple change to your breathing pattern, changes the oxygen rich blood flow to the brain. I won’t get any more “sciency” about how to do it and why, because I want you to pay attention to just how easy this is, and how easy it is to resolve the anxiety attack.

Are you ready?

Get into a comfortable position, sitting is fine. Close your eyes. Imagine a nice serene scene (like the lake scene pictured above). Now breath in through your nose for a total of four seconds. You do not need to fill your lungs to capacity. Believe it or not, breathing in too deeply can lead to hyperventilating, actually making things worse. After you have inhaled, open your lips ever so slightly, to let your breath escape through the pressed lips for a total of five seconds, maybe six if you can stretch it out.

Repeat this five or six times. If you have calmed down, great. If you need to do more, then do another set.

I have been in four intense situations of “fight or flight”, with my blood pressure going through the roof. The only thing that prevented me from needing to go to the emergency room, was this special breathing exercise taught to me.

I hope it helps you.

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