5 Breathing Techniques for Anxiety and Stress Relief
While feeling anxious or stressed, our breathing rate changes drastically. We typically take slow breaths from our lower lungs, but during panic or an emergency, we start breathing shallowly and rapidly from the upper lungs.
If we aren’t physically exerting ourselves, prolong shallow breathing can lead to hyperventilation. That produces a lot of the symptoms during a panic attack such as shortness of breath, dizziness, confusion, nausea, and tingling in the feet or hands.
Here’s five breathing exercises to avoid hyperventilation and reverse symptoms during stress or an anxiety attack.
Abdominal Breathing – Natural Breath
- Slowly breath in and inhale air through your nose, filling your lower lungs. Your upper chest stays still and your stomach will slowly expand with your breath.
- Breathe out easily.
- Repeat steps 1 and 2 in a relaxed (not forced) manner, remember to concentrate on only filling the lower lungs.
- Inhale slowly through your nose. Start by filling lower lungs and then the upper lungs with air.
- Pause, hold your breath, and count to three.
- Exhale through pursed lips. Relax your face and also the muscles in the upper body.
Practice this breathing exercise when you want to release tension and bring on calmness.
- Take a few natural breaths.
- While breathing naturally count “one” as you exhale.
- Inhale slowly and naturally.
- Exhale and count “two”.
- Continue inhaling and counting while exhaling until you reach “five”.
- Begin a new cycle starting with “one” on the exhale.
You’ll recognize if you space out if you find yourself counting higher than five. Try to do 10 minutes of Breath Counting.
- Relax your jaw and loosen your shoulders.
- Inhale slowly through your nose while you count to four.
- Let your stomach expand as you inhale.
- Pause and hold your breath for a moment.
- Exhale slowly while you count to seven.
Repeat as smoothly as you can for a few minutes to reduce tension.
- Put one hand on your chest and your other hand above your belt line.
- Relax and let your mouth gape open.
- Gently exhale and sigh, relaxing the muscles of your upper body.
- Close your mouth, hold your breath and pause for a few seconds.
- Inhale gently through the nose filling your lower lungs and let the air push your stomach out.
- Breath in as much air as feels comfortable.
Practicing one of these breathing techniques each day will reduce stress and anxiety. Stimulating the parasympathetic nervous system through deep breathing will promote calmness in the body and mind.
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