Breathing is not just a process which allows our bodies to take oxygen. If used right, breathing can be a wonderful tool for relaxation of both the muscles and the mind. You can combine it with some other techniques for stress relief, such as yoga and meditation, to get the best out of both.
You can choose from a variety of different breathing techniques, which are very easy and simple, to fight stress and improve your health. Everybody knows you should take deep breaths, but what are the best breathing exercises for anxiety?
Read on and you will find out all about these techniques and the benefits of their regular use.
The Benefits of Breathing Exercises
Breathing exercises beat many alternatives, at least when it comes to acute stress reduction. Why should one go to therapy with an expensive, on-the-clock therapist or pay a hefty price for treatment at the massage clinic or a luxurious spa, when they can reduce stress on their own?
These breathing exercises do not take much time to learn, and once you do, you can further perfect them and tailor them to your own liking. It is great that you can use them pretty much anywhere. So, if you get into a stressful situation, you can control your breathing to keep stress in check or even deescalate an otherwise dire outcome.
Even chronic stress can be effectively soothed with some breathing methods by reversing the stress response of a person. In the case of people who are under chronic stress, breathing exercises can take some time to be effective, but otherwise, they usually show instant results.
People who are not affected by chronic stress can also develop this problem if their stress response is not reversed. You should not wait for these symptoms to develop; it is better to prevent the damage than to heal it. Chronic stress can cause severe issues and should not be taken lightly.
Taking the time to slow down your breath and inhale in deep, rhythmic fashion lets you enter a state of tranquility which calms the nerves and raises your body temperature. Also, these breathing techniques are a way to reduce blood pressure, relax your muscles, remove the toxins from your body with less effort, and improve the oxygen flow in your body.
Additionally, if all the previously mentioned benefits were not enough, here are some of the ailments which can be avoided or diminished just by practicing the right breathing technique:
- All sorts of headaches
- Various sleep disorders including restless leg syndrome, insomnia, etc.
- Anxiety, depression, and many other stress disorders and phobias
- Short attention span and inability to concentrate
- Feeling burned out and fatigued
- Panic attacks and hyperventilating
Best Breathing Exercises for Anxiety and Stress Reduction
There is a plethora of breathing techniques for relaxation you can find online and the proponents of each technique will tell you theirs is the best. You will not find biased information here, but you will find out about the best breathing exercises for anxiety which are approved by medical experts and health organizations.
Most people think that relaxation comes when you indulge in your favorite activities such as watching the TV, reading a book, or working on your hobby. However, these activities do nothing but distract us from stressful thoughts.
Activating the natural relaxation response in our bodies is the correct way to eliminate stress and all the harmful effects which accompany it. Dr. Herbert Benson is the one who came up with the relaxation response. He claims that this is a physical state of deep rest which affects our emotional response as well as a physical response to stress.
The American Institute of Stress stated that focused abdominal breathing is the best way to trigger this response. If you breathe through your abdomen about half an hour a day, you are guaranteed to reduce anxiety and stress.
Abdominal breathing, belly breathing, or diaphragmatic breathing is the body’s intended way of breathing. Taking short breaths through the chest should not be your go-to form of breathing, unless you area under a lot of physical stress, say during a workout and briefly afterward.
If you breathe deeply, you are giving more oxygen to your brain and stimulating the parasympathetic nervous system, a division of the autonomic nervous system which helps you to feel calm and relaxed.
The Quieting Response
This method combines deep breathing with visualization to prevent stress response as soon as possible. The best of it, you can do it in just six seconds.
- Use your mouth and your eyes to smile inwardly and exert the tension from your shoulders. Nearly everyone keeps these muscles tense, which is why this is an excellent muscle release.
- Activate your imagination and think that you have holes in your soles. Breathe in deeply, visualizing hot air which flows through those holes, up to your legs and abdomen until it fills your lungs.
- As the hot air moves through each muscle, relax those muscles one by one.
- Reverse the process of visualization when you exhale, as if the air is leaving through the same holes in your soles.
- You can repeat this whenever you have the urge to become free of stress.
This breathing technique is endorsed by the American Institute of Stress.
This breathing technique can assist with developing better use of the lungs and it can accustom you to rhythmic breathing. If you are new to it, you should lie down on your back and keep the knees bent.
- Put one hand on your chest and the other one on your belly. Pay attention to your hands moving while breathing.
- Practice breathing in a manner which fills your lower lungs, making the belly hand go up, while the chest hand stays still.
- Breathe in through the nose and out from the mouth ten times.
- After this, breathe the same way, but fill your upper chest as well. Make a whoosh sound when you exhale.
- Keep doing this for between 3 and 5 minutes.
Air In, Stress Out
Diaphragmatic breathing comes with many benefits. Most of all, it activates the natural stress response and brings instant relaxation. You can use it on a daily basis and practice it in stressful situations to equip your body for a powerful counterattack.