Breathing is essential to life because it is the process by which our body receives oxygen and gets rid of carbon dioxide as a waste product. However, most people are not aware of the fact that bad breathing habits can deny the body of the oxygen required, making it vulnerable to fatigue, stress, and anxiety attacks.
Breathing Patterns in People with Anxiety
When you have anxiety, you generally take quick, short breaths (shallow breathing) that come from your chest. It is called thoracic breathing, which disturbs the levels of oxygen and carbon dioxide in your body. As a result, your heart pounds, the muscles become tensed, and you feel dizzy along with tingling sensations in the body.
Shortness of breath may accompany these anxiety sensations and symptoms. You may get too much concerned about your breathing and would want to monitor your breathing pattern. You may also feel like you are not inhaling enough air and try to over-breathe.
4 Breathing Techniques for Anxiety
1. Deep Breathing Exercise
How to do
- Placing your feet hip-width apart, breathe in through the nose as deeply as you can without hurrying it and forcing it.
- Breathe in slowly and regularly while counting from 1 to 5. Initially, you may find it challenging to reach
- Without holding your breath, gently exhale through your mouth while counting from 1 to 5 again.
- Repeat the exercise for about 5 minutes.
Since it is a calming breathing exercise, it is beneficial for relieving stress and anxiety. Being a simple technique, it can be performed anywhere within a few minutes and in any position like sitting in a chair with back support, lying on a yoga mat or bed, or standing up.
2. Diaphragmatic Breathing Exercise
How to do
- Lie on the bed with your head supported and knees bent. You may support your legs by keeping a pillow under the knees.
- Place one hand on the upper chest while putting the other hand just below the rib cage.
- Inhale gently through the nose to make sure your belly moves out against the hand while your other hand on the chest remains still.
- As you breathe out through pursed lips, tighten your belly and let it fall inward.
- Repeat it for about 5 minutes.
Once you master this exercise, you may do it while sitting in a chair. Both the lying and seated varieties encourage your body to relax through controlled breathing.
- Helps lower high blood pressure and blood sugar to reduce the chances of heart diseases and diabetes.
- Improves sleep quality.
- Improves mental focus by increasing the blood flow to your brain.
3. Meditation (Yoga) Breathing Exercise
How to do
- In a distraction-free area, sit on the floor with your legs crossed and back straight.
- Close your eyes and start a breathing exercise.
- Concentrate on your breathing pattern without changing it so that you can be aware of the present moment.
- When you practice meditation, negative thoughts may occur. Acknowledge those thoughts without trying to suppress them.
- Once you have reached the desired time, come out of the meditation and engage in some body-stretches.
Through regular practice, it helps reduce symptoms of anxiety and panic attacks.
You can do it at any time of the day. Performing it in the morning helps reduce morning anxiety while doing it in the evening aids you to get a good night’s sleep.
4. 4-7-8 Breathing Exercise
How to do
- Put the tip of your tongue behind the front teeth at the roof of your mouth.
- Inhale slowly while counting from 1 to 4.
- Cease breathing while counting from 1 to 7.
- Exhale through the mouth, making a whooshing sound while counting from 1 to 8.
- Repeat the exercise 3-4 times without a break.
This is another breathing exercise where you need to control your breathing pattern, which helps you in overcoming distraction and relaxing your mind.
- Helps lessen internal tension and control food cravings.
If you find any of these breathing exercises difficult or feel increased anxiety while doing it, stop for now. Try again in a few days’ time and build up the intensity gradually.