Anxiety is the body’s natural response to physical or emotional stress. This can become overwhelming, causing distress. Many of our experts use breathing techniques to help keep a balanced mind and reduce stress. Being able to control your breathing and find what is good for you can help immensely in times of need. In this article, we have 5 effective exercises to try in the comfort of your own space and in your own time.
1. Deep breathing
Deep breathing is the most common technique used to reduce anxiety. It’s practical at any time of the day while sitting, standing up, or lying down.
- Relax the tummy.
- Place one hand just beneath the ribs.
- Breathe in slowly and deeply through the nose as you notice the hand rise.
- Breathe out through the mouth, noticing the hand fall.
- Continue until calm.
2. Quieting response
The quieting response breathing method entails deep breaths with visualization, which helps reduce stress and anxiety.
Firstly you must relax all the muscles in your face and shoulders, then imagine having holes in the soles of your feet.
- Take a deep breath in, then visualise the breath as hot air entering the body through the holes in the feet’ soles.
- Imagine feeling the hot air gradually flowing up the legs, through the lower body and then filling up the lungs.
- As the hot air passes, relax each muscle.
- Breathe out the air slowly, imagining the air passing out from the lungs back down your body, leaving out of the soles on your feet.
- Continue until calm
3. Mindful breathing
Mindful breathing uses mindfulness to help you focus on the here and now.
Practice mindful breathing, either sitting down or lying down in a place you are comfortable with your eyes open or closed.
- Slowly Inhale through the nose until the stomach expands.
- Slowly let the breath out through the mouth.
- Settling in, you then focus on the breath coming in through the nose and out through the mouth.
- Notice the rise and fall of the stomach as the breaths come in and out.
- Thoughts may come into your mind; allow this to happen, then let them go as you bring your attention back to the breathing.
- Continue until calm, start to be aware of how the body and mind feel.
4. 4-7-8 breathing
The 4-7-8 technique is a quick and simple way for you to relax wherever you are.
Sit down with your back straight and the tip of your tongue on the back of your upper front teeth.
- Breathe out through the mouth, making a whooshing sound.
- Then close the mouth and count to 4 while breathing in through the nose.
- Count to 7 while holding the breath.
- Count to 8 while breathing out through the mouth, making a whooshing sound again.
- Inhale, then repeat three times.
5. Diaphragmatic breathing
This breathing technique Doctors usually recommend to people with a lung condition called chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. A study has shown that it is helpful in also reducing stress and anxiety.
Start by either sitting up or lying down.
- Place one hand on the stomach and the other on the upper chest.
- Breathe in through the nose, focusing on the stomach rising.
- Breathe out through pursed lips, focusing on the stomach lowering.
- Continue until calm