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Around 40 million adult Americans battle with some form of anxiety disorder, but only 36.9% of them receive treatment. Unfortunately, mental health resources are not widely accessible.
Anxiety breathing exercises, however, are. If you haven’t tried them before and aren’t sure where to start, here’s a list of some that you can implement into your daily life.
Anxiety Breathing Exercises
Shallow breaths usually occur when the sympathetic nervous system believes that your body needs to go into fight-or-flight mode due to a threat or an emergency.
Deep breathing exercises counteract this alarm by triggering the parasympathetic nervous system. Not only does this practice help you during panic attacks, but breathing exercises also have long-term health benefits, like decreasing your blood pressure and improving your brain function.
1. Deep Belly Breaths
Many people hold tension in their upper body and only breathe into their chest. To deepen the breath, though, you must send air into your abdomen.
Shut your eyes and rest your hands on your stomach to feel it rise as you inhale and contract as you exhale. If you are having trouble focusing, come up with one word that will help you come back to the sound of your breath. It can be as simple as “ease” or “relax.”
2. Pursed-Lips Breathing
This simple technique requires you to inhale with your mouth closed for two seconds. When it’s time to exhale, part and pucker your lips, then breathe out slowly for four seconds.
For anyone with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, pursed-lips breathing can come in handy. Practicing this exercise and taking prescribed medication, available via online ordering, works to decrease the severity of your shortness of breath or wheezing.
3. The 4-7-8 Method
This technique is not only useful for dealing with anxiety, but it also helps you go to sleep. Before you start, let go of any tension you might have in your shoulders and jaw. Rest your tongue on the roof of your mouth.
Begin by breathing in through your nostrils for four seconds. Pause and hold your breath for seven seconds. Finally, part your lips, keeping your tongue on the roof of your mouth, and exhale for eight seconds.
4. Nadi Shodhana
You might know this technique as “alternative nostril breathing.” Either lying down or sitting up, take one thumb and press it against one of your nostrils. Inhale through the open one, then hold your breath.
Release your thumb as you press your ring finger against your other nostril. Slowly exhale through the open nostril, and inhale through it once you’ve let all the air out. Hold your breath, seal that first nostril with your thumb once again, and then exhale through the opposite one.
5. Guided Meditation
If you’re having trouble practicing your deep breathing exercises on your own, there are plenty of free resources out there that provide guided meditations. These timed practices are easy to do when you’re on the go or even at the office. Plus, some of them come with a calendar feature so you can see how frequently you’ve been meditating.
Continuing Your Breath Journey
Remember that consistency is essential when it comes to working on anxiety breathing exercises. Even when your stress levels are low, you should take time out of your day to practice. Create a breathing exercise schedule to prepare you for when your anxiety worsens again.
Another way to implement breath exercises into your daily routine is to take up yoga. Check out this article to learn why it’s beneficial for everyone, no matter your flexibility or fitness level.