Updated: Oct 17
It’s a huge milestone to take the first step into giving up. However, it would be unwise to not prepare yourself to deal with the inevitable cravings that come with recovery. There are, of course, many different methods from yoga to medication that can assist you with this, but often we can be caught in a tight spot where our usual method is unavailable or simply not practical. It is worth learning a breathing technique to help regulate your mind and ease the cravings away.
The Bellows Breath
Primarily a breathing technique used in yoga, known as the stimulating breath. In a yogic sense, it serves to raise vital energy as well as improving alertness.
It is known as bellows breathing due to the movement in the diaphragm. The basic parameters of this method, involve inhaling and exhaling rapidly through your nose whilst keeping your mouth closed.
It is suggested that you aim for 3 breath cycles per second, before returning to a normal breathing pattern.
It is important to only attempt this for 10-15 seconds at first, before gradually furthering by a further 5 seconds each time until a full minute.
Whilst this method isn’t specifically targeted for addiction, the duration and intensity of the breathing cycle can override cravings and distract the mind.
Counting Your Breathing
This method is a classic from the playbook of dealing with anxiety, helping you fall asleep and even combating stress.
And, it’s incredibly simple to boot.
Inhale, count 1. Exhale, count 2. Inhale, count 3. Exhale, count 4.
And so on, so forth.
Sometimes humankind can be guilty of overthinking situations, and the most effective solution is oft the easiest.
There is no need to work to any timing with this, there is no maximum or minimum number to count too either.
You can breathe rapidly and count to 100 or take your time and count to 10.
Some Other Ideas
There are a plethora of other methods available, and it would be worth researching them to find a method that suits you.
One of the more commonly known breathing techniques is to alternate use of each nostril, inhaling and exhaling through one nostril before changing to the other.
Repeating this can help remain calm and in control of your emotions.
Alternatively there is the method known as the lion’s breath.
Simply exhale through an open mouth, with your tongue sticking out, and make any noise. This can improve circulation, and aid in relaxation.
There are many ways to assist in overcoming cravings as well as relaxing the body when in recovery from alcohol problems or substance misuse.
Whilst breathing techniques are a handy tool for your repository, it is always advised to have more than one coping strategy.
Each method listed here has merits, but it is always best to try different techniques and find what works for you, recovery from an alcohol, drug or substance addiction is a long journey and specific to each person.
It is also advisable to host a conversation with your doctor or counsellor to discuss what is suited to your needs, and follow their advice on your journey of recovery.
Start Recovery is a private counselling service in North Leeds, Yorkshire, UK.
So if you think you might benefit from treatment, get in touch and we'll see what I can do to help.