Let’s see if you can answer this question for yourself..

“If you are feeling anxious – where in your body is there tightness?”

If this is hard to work out – close your eyes, be somewhere quiet – and watch / examine your body from toes to head… then, when you find tight area(s) – ask what emotion does it bring up?

This is the first stage to identifying where the issues may be.

Once you have found these places and the varying emotions that they can illicit – then we can go to work on them!

When we get stressed, we tend to hold ourselves tight and stiff. Most frequently this means we raise our shoulders, and tighten our abdominal muscles or clench our teeth!

The diaphragm also gets caught up with this as well – which is notable because it is the horizontal junctional area between the thorax (chest) and abdomen (“tummy”).

If you do not use your diaphragm to breathe properly it can cause aches and pains around your chest and abdomen – or even mimic a heart attack!

The great news is that you can re-learn how to breathe properly and be relaxed at the same time!. As a result it can reduce or eliminate that tight feeling and anxiety too.

Exercise to do:

Either sitting or lying down – place your hands on your tummy.

Your finger tips should be just touching.

As you breathe in deeply through your nose – towards your diaphragm (keep your shoulders down and relaxed), your fingers will part a bit as your belly goes outwards and your ribs lift and expand. Wait!

The trick now is to fully relax and allow the air float out through a slightly open mouth – so there is no resistance.

Tip: Think of a really long-necked balloon… the balloon is in your tummy – and you want it to fill up all the way to the tops of your thighs! As you breathe out – it gently collapses (but not fully!) and your ribs drop down.

This is a simple and easy exercise to do anywhere but especially if you are feeling anxious.

I have been writing a post on how our physical bodies can cause emotional or mental "anxiety". 😫😖😱🥴This is a simple exercise to help reduce this and teach you about your body. Enjoy! 😍Where did you find the tightest areas in YOUR body?Did this help?

Posted by Living Elements Clinic on Friday, 11 October 2019

I often teach my clients how to breathe as God intended during my work – but in our rush-about-World – our natural breathing gets forgotten. Time pressures and demands take over – and our body goes onto panic / react / “sympathetic overload” setting.. fine if you are being chased by a tiger – NOT for usual function!

It becomes “the usual” setting, quite unconsciously. So we need to put in time and conscious effort to make a difference. This is where #OsteopathyWorks.

Ultimately it may be necessary to physically work on the tight tissues – as they return to their abnormal “normal”. This is where the Osteopathy scores – by re-integrating your body with normal function. 😉

If this has struck a chord with you – and you want some further help – make an appointment to see Gayle.


Here is the transcript for the video – for those who may find it helpful:


Hello. This is Gayle Palmer, the Osteopath at the Living Elements Clinic in Chichester.

This short video is about belly breathing or diaphragmatic breathing. It is an important skill to be able to master, although it should be completely natural, because tightness in various parts of the body will increase all levels of anxiety and can also increase our experience of feeling stressed.

So, in order to do the belly breathing, there is a really simple way to do this and it does not take very long to do. It is something that I teach in the clinic along with other techniques to help my clients.

So, first of all, you need to be sitting comfortably, or you can do this standing but it is easier to be off weight bearing, so sitting is ideal.

Pop your hands together so your fingertips are just touching across your belly. Okay?

So, a little anatomy lesson first of all, your diaphragm goes between your lower ribs, all around to your back. And it forms quite a high arch in your chest. It is not flat at all! And actually forms quite a high arch so that when you fully breath out, your diaphragm, middle part of your diaphragm is right up by your mid chest. Extraordinary! It is the biggest muscle that we use for respiration and it’s action, because it is attached to all the lower ribs as well, helps to move those lower ribs in and out without breathing.

So, if we are breathing normally, which should be by using our diaphragm as the main pumping engine, first we use our upper ribs and other respiratory structures. This is a simple way to do it.

So, pop your hands just over your tummy, allow your shoulders to be nice and relaxed, so that your fingertips are just touching. And then as we breathe in, we are going to see how much air we can get into (effectively) our belly, and into our abdomen. (I know that, that is not actually happening in reality!)

The areas off you see only going into a large which is in our thorax but for this exercise, it is a good way of thinking about it. So, imagine that your belly is going to fill up like a balloon and it goes into a long tube up to your mouth from the point to the balloon. So, here goes.

So you are going to breathe in through your nose, and out through your mouth, just gently. And almost the most important aspect of this for the belly breathing is to make sure that you breathe out fully. It is quite easy to breath in but breathing out allows all of your respiratory structures, your central nervous system, your brainstem, where a lot of your respiratory action, happens to calm down, settle and uses the part of our nervous system called the parasympathetic nervous system.

So, let us just do that again together.

So, that is a bit more about diaphragmatic breathing. One thing to do before you start this exercise, is to really sit and look at where the areas of tension are in our bodies. Sit quietly, maybe with your hands just folded on your lap, and you are going to examine your body – going up from your toes, to your knees, to your hips and pelvic area which often has a little tension in it, throughout your belly and abdomen itself, around the diaphragm, low ribs, up into the chest, upper shoulders and neck. We often hold loads of tension in our jaw as well.

So, we can be looking at those before you start this exercise and then as you do that diaphragmatic breathing exercise, really think about – as you breath out, relaxing those particular areas. Wherever that area of tightness is for you and that would make a really big difference.

So, have fun with this, this is not a “right or wrong” exercise. It improves as you practice.

I hope that has been a help for you today.

Take care for now. Bye-bye.

Your health IS my priority!

Gayle and Echo, the poodle© Gayle Palmer / Living Elements Clinic

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