Breath, Anxiety, stress, Vista Clinic Blog, mindfulmoment

The only time I took the word “mutate” or “mutant” seriously, was in much earlier years where the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles were of interest to my young mind.  These days, I observe how many times I encounter this word, and it has absolutely no goal like the Mutant Ninja Turtles had back in the day.  The focus now is on how slow or how fast viruses like the Corona can become more dangerous and deadlier.  With that being said, the “mutation” of the Corona virus has now led to the grim reality of facing waves similar to that which the Titanic sailed upon years ago.

In South Africa, we are facing a possible third wave according to many health professionals.  We are advised to be aware. And perhaps even get prepared.

“What do I do?”, “What do I buy?”, “Will I get it this time round?”, “Will I get it again?”, “Do I vaccinate?”, “Do I not vaccinate?”, “Will we go back to level 5 restrictions – or level 3 or remain on level 1?” The list of questions is endless.  All the while I stand in the isle of the supermarket and think… “baked beans?” or “toilet paper?” Which one will in this round be the winner of the most sought-after grocery item?  I start to panic and I feel the anxiety creeping under and into my skin like a lazy anaconda. I do not know the answers to these questions. Clearly, my mind has gone into survival mode. And it refuses to acknowledge that the overdo of the first mentioned grocery item could possibly lead to the over-usage of the latter mentioned grocery item.  I smile, because I saw the light (or was it the toilet paper, I wonder?)


It is often suggested that anxiety caused by panic, can be extremely debilitating.  Experts sing from the same hymn sheet when they say that learning how to breath effectively in such circumstances, can be more constructive than robbing our bodies from oxygen or providing too much oxygen when in a state of panic and experiencing anxiety.  Here are some useful exercises on how to regulate our breathing in these difficult times to ensure that we give an “encore” to the experts:

Exercise specifically used to learn and maintain abdominal breathing

In an upright posture, inhale and exhale normally while holding one hand on stomach in order to feel movement and confirm abdominal use

Grounding is used to alleviate anxiety

When a person gets “caught” in anxiety the brain is going along a thought pattern that is causing that anxiety. In order to alleviate that anxiety, the brain must be “bumped” off that thought pattern. In order to do that the brain’s focus must be changed. To do this the brain has to be forced to refocus on “something” else. This is done by doing an activity that requires cognitive focus and thought. This is where breathing is useful. Forcing the brain to focus on a specific method of breathing will achieve this.

(checking your level of breathing)

This exercise is useful as a tool when shortness of breath, due to anxiety, is experienced

It can also be used as a grounding tool

This exercise will also alleviate asthma and sleep apnoea symptoms

This exercise is used to check on progress and to ascertain at what level breathing is taking place (Lower 10 bad – 10 – 20 acceptable – 40+ good, but will only achieve by including physical activity)

(short breath in – short breath out) hold and count until air hunger

Taking of the pulse can be used as a grounding tool, as tangible element i.e., feeling how one calms down

With more practised or very light panic attacks, pulse taking can also be used for grounding

Gently place 2 fingers of your other hand on this artery

Do not use your thumb, because it has its own pulse that you may feel.

Count the beats for 30 seconds, and then double the result to get the number of beats per minute.

After discovering all of the above exercises (and so much more), I feel like a soldier – equipped and ready for battle.  I feel calmer knowing that a small thing like breathing can help me to choose: baked beans or toilet paper. I smile again…and I remember to BREATHE…


By William Ernest Henley Out of the night that covers me, Black as the pit from pole to pole, I thank whatever gods may be For my unconquerable soul. In the fell clutch of circumstance I…


Winter time is fire-gazing time for me. As I sat by the fireplace this winter, enjoying the warmth of the fire, I gained a new appreciation for this energy. It reminded me of how as human…

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