Shortness of Breath Is a Sign of Anxiety, Which Sucks
I'm seeing a lot of posts on the internet about shortness of breath, which is a symptom of today's world event. It's sort of an amazing experience. Not since the release of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows have I felt like this. I feel so on the same page with the rest of the human race. If community is about a shared mythology, we have erected a substantial global community all of a sudden. And isn't that sort of a good thing? Silver linings and such.
What these people probably don't have is a virus.
They're afflicted with the other pandemic that's sweeping our globe. It's uniting people. It's the pandemic with a higher transfer rate that's more insidious and that none of us have any immunity to: anxiety.
That's a true disease we've got on us. Anxiety is a crazy thing, and it's coming hand-in-hand with everything that's happening in the world.
These people talking about shortness of breath probably haven't got Covid-19, statistically speaking. What they have got is anxiety.
The real kicker is that shortness of breath is a symptom of both. Shortness of breath accompanies profound, prolonged anxiety, and that's a difficult thing to deal with.
I Always Look to the Wise When I Need to Deal With Anxiety...
They've been around a long time, the wise. They've had a lot of time to see things and think about things. If you're lucky, you get an opportunity to speak to a wise person. That's an excellent time to lay your heart out and discover what the voices speaking out of the ages have to say.
So I said to my grandma that I had been doing poorly. I have anxiety sometimes, and I've talked of it with her before. I said that among all that's happening I'm not doing too well.
And she said, "Can you sing?"
So simple. So odd.
Singing. That's not such a bad piece of advice.
Here's several reasons singing, in particular, is an excellent thing to help you deal with anxiety.
1. It Helps With Shortness of Breath
Prolonged, specific, and controlled breathing helps to strengthen your diaphragm and lungs and increases blood flow to the brain and heart. There's lots of literature out there about the benefits of breath control for helping with stress. Most of the literature talks about breath control as sitting and counting while you breathe. But that's boring. I think they're too embarrassed. They don't tell you to put together a playlist of your favorite songs to sing. They don't tell you to sing them at surprising moments in order to help with your stress.
Singing requires breath control. To sing, you need to breath in deeper, and you need to breathe out at controlled rates. It's just like breath control. It may be MORE like breath control than breath control itself.
2. Making Things Helps With Feelings of Powerlessness
One reason we feel anxiety is because we worry. We worry there's nothing we can do about whatever societal bugbear keeps rearing up to shout in our faces. Making things help with feeling powerless. Even if you're making messy things that no one will see it can cause a little warmth in you. If you make something and you know you've added to the world you feel a little bit bigger.
3. (Specific to the Current Age) It's a Perfect Thing to Do When No One's Watching
Now listen, I believe that there are a lot more good singers in the world than bad ones. That being said, I do also believe that most of us feel certain we are some of the bad singers. Which is the reason why we don't like to sing in public. That and the part where if we keep our mouths open for a prolonged period of time we are certain to catch a fly.
That would be uncomfortable for the fly. Singing is good for you. But because we feel vulnerable while singing (possibly because of the fly), now is a perfect time to build up your karaoke repertoire. Now is a perfect time to practice the songs you like. Because eventually, as the man said, this too shall pass. When it does, who do you want to be? The person who is still afraid of picking up the microphone at your local karaoke themed Tiki bar? Or do you want to be the brave person singing "Holding Out for a Hero" by Bonnie Tyler? There you would be, the hero mentioned in the song, attracting raucous applause of one and all. Because I know which side of that ledger I want to be on when the time comes.
4. It's Good for You Physiologically
This one was, I admit, hard for me to believe. I know from my own experience that singing feels like exercise. I have another grandparent who brought me around to his several singing organizations. I sang with them for a few years. I can tell you that I am as tired after a strictly organized choir practice as I am after a moderate workout. I know that it's good exercise to sing. I know that it literally makes you breathe easier, because it is exercise for the breathing apparatus. What I did not know is that because it produces endorphins, and because it encourages blood flow and circulation, and because it's good for your nervous system, there is some evidence that singing can improve your immunity. How about that?
5. Music Makes You Happy
This is a little bit of a gimme. Anxiety is not unhappiness. It's a physiological response to stress, and it can make you unhappy. In the same way, music--or making it--is not happiness. But it's something you can do that has a physiological effect on your body that makes you less stressed. So sing out and sing loud.
And I know that you know...our happiness rubs off on people close to us...kids included (if not primarily so!)
Loneliness Is the Worst Plague
Being cooped up and asked to stay away from people appeals to a deeper fear than any other fear human beings have. A fear of disease is an intellectual fear. We fear it because we know things about the world and how it works. Fear of isolation--that's hard-coded, brothers and sisters. A world leader who is also a philosopher is a rare breed. To their credit, our pragmatic aristocracy does want to keep us safe, and they want us to survive. I must believe that to remain sane. To do it, they gave us an order pointed precisely at what we fear most: being alone. They didn't do this maliciously, I don't think. They did it from a place of hope and concern.
Still, we have to deal with the effects.
For my part, I think that singing is a therapy suited perfectly to the world right now. It helps with breathing. It's good for you both mentally and physically. And it'll prepare you perfectly to be the belle of the explosion of karaoke parties I'll be organizing worldwide as soon as I can.