Everybody breathes – if we don’t, the outcome is generally not so goodSo it’s not an optional task, it is an absolutely essential part of living.
However breathing may seem like a trivial way of helping your health but it is a seriously under estimated skill that can help to calm the mind and the body. When we get upset, stressed, anxious or fearful our breathing changes. We tend to take short breathes in and out from our chest our upper lung area rather than our diaphragm or lower lungs. This can make our symptoms worse and in extreme cases, lead to hyperventilation.
When you breathe slowly and deeply, you’re able to trigger your body’s natural parasympathetic response which starts to calm down your mind and body, which leads to feelings of calmness.
When your body’s natural calming response is triggered, the following occurs:
- Increased sense of ease in the body
- Growing sense of calmness in the mind
- Breathing rate slows down
- Heart rate slows down
- Muscle tension decreases
- Blood pressure decreases
So there are lots of benefits to concentrating on your breathing.
Here are 4 different exercises you can try…
The Calming Breathing Exercise
- Take a long, slow breath in through your nose, filling up your lower lungs (diaphragm) first, and then your upper lungs (chest)
- Hold your breath for a count of three
- Purse your lips and slowly exhale out of your mouth, relaxing the muscles in your jaw, face, forehead, eyebrows, shoulders and stomach
- Repeat 10 times each day
The Natural Breathing Technique
- Slowly inhale through your nose, focusing on only filling up your lower lungs (diaphragm/stomach area)
- Exhale easily
- Repeat and continue to practice until this comes to you naturally
The Calming Counts Breathing Exercise
This breathing technique takes a little longer than the other exercises, but it works wonders. The good thing is, that by focusing on your breathing for the 90-seconds it takes to complete this breathing technique, you’ll be taking the focus away from your anxious thoughts, while also alleviating symptoms. And as you already know, taking the attention away from your anxiety attack or panic attack is key to stopping it in its tracks.
- Find a comfortable place to sit
- Take a long, deep breath
- Exhale slowly and silently repeat the word “relax” either in your head or out loud
- Softly close your eyes
- Take ten natural, easy breaths
- Begin to exhale, counting down from “10”
- As you’re exhaling, focus on alleviating any tension in your forehead, jaw, shoulders and stomach and imagine all stress and tension escaping your mind and body with each exhale
- As you reach “1”, open your eyes and bring your attention back to your surroundings
The Relaxing Breath Exercise
Exhale completely through your mouth, making a whooshing sound
- Close your mouth and inhale through your nose to the count of 4
- Hold your breath for a count of 7
- Exhale completely through your mouth for a count of 8
- Repeat 3 to 4 times
The key to using any breathing exercises for anxiety, stress, nerves, fear etc is to practice them so they become second nature. When anxiety or stress approaches our normal logic way of breathing is one of the first things we forget to do properly. So practice these breathing exercises daily and you may well prevent your anxiety from building up!
Let me know how you get on.
Until next time