Breathing Techniques for Anxiety
About breathing and how it helps us relax in stressful situations
Anyone who suffers from anxiety knows how important it is to be able to control your breathing. But using a few breathing techniques can deliberately influence the nervous system to help calm you down. When we are stressed, the muscles in our stomach tenses up and when we inhale, it puts pressure on the diaphragm, which in turn reduces the amount of air intake. Thus, we experience a lack of oxygen.
This is why one of the symptoms of anxiety is a headache. The lack of oxygen makes them dizzy and with enough pressure on the diaphragm, a person could even pass out.
To keep this from happening, we MUST learn how to control our breathing when anxious.
*Remember: Actively involving the diaphragm in breathing is not recommended for people with heart and vascular problems. Before you start, see a doctor.*
Technique 1: “Belly Breathing”
With this simple breathing exercise, you’ll learn diaphragmatic breathing according to the “7:11” technique.
Breathe in for 7 counts, then breathe out for 11 counts. Try to keep the pace of the count even. Breathing this way will lead to relaxation and typically, and in some instances troubling thoughts or panic will also subside.
If the 7:11 breathing pattern makes you feel short of breath or causes some kind of discomfort, start with counting to 4 as you breathe in, and to 8 as you breathe out. Then each time you practice, lengthen your inhalations and exhalations — first to 5:9, then 6:10, then finally 7:11. The main thing is to always breathe out for 4 seconds longer than you breathe in.
Try this exercise for five to ten minutes. Belly breathing should be done no more than two or three times a day. If you train regularly, you can master the technique within one to three days.
Technique 2: “Square Breathing”
The square breathing method helps you to fully relax in a short period of time. The main idea is to have your inhales, exhales, and the gap in between to be equal in duration. This is where the method’s name comes from.
Before you begin, get into a comfortable position. You can stand or sit but ensure that your back remains straight. Take a few deep breaths in and out. Breathe consciously and deeply.
With your next breath in, count to four — one, two, three, four.
Now hold your breath and count again — one, two, three, four.
Breathe out, counting to four as well — one, two, three, four.
After you breathe out, hold your breath and count to four again- one, two, three, four. Continue to do square breathing until you feel your anxiety fading.
You can try changing the length of the phases, shortening them to a count of three or lengthening them to seven. Find the most comfortable length of time for you. In order to completely calm your body and mind, practice this technique for five to ten minutes.
Oftentimes, anxiety feels like having the weight of the world resting on your chest. Yet, when breathing for anxiety, you can instantly feel a sense of relief. So use these techniques to gain control of your breathing and alleviate your anxiety.
Give it a try right now, even while reading, and you will see how good and calm you feel.
More breathing techniques are here: Sensera app. This app was developed by professional psychotherapists for people who want to solve mild mental problems on their own. To see if it suits you, choose a test period, and make a step towards a healthier you!