Anxiety is physically draining, a social killer, and just zaps the fun out of everything. Deep breathing allows your to take control of your life, and feel empowered that you are doing everything you can to feel better. It is one of the best ways to lower stress and reduce anxiety. Practicing deep breathing exercises is often used for anxiety by shifting your breathing pattern, and stimulating a parasympathetic response, also known as a calming response. The calming response helps you become relaxed, while slowing your heart rate and breathing. There are two common ways to practice deep breathing that are great tools when experiencing high anxiety levels.
1. The simplest deep breathing exercise involves sitting in a chair with your back straight and your arms on the armrests. Next, take a deep, slowly breath in through your nose, lasting from 5-6 seconds. Then hold for a few seconds and breathe out slowly through your mouth, taking around 7 seconds. Repeat this process 10 times. Practicing during times of stress and lack of control like standing in line, waiting on someone else, or waiting in traffic when you have to be somewhere is a way to feel in control again.
2. The second type of breathing exercise is referred to as advanced inhale-hold-exhale deep breathing. This exercise is geared towards those experiencing panic attacks, rather than general anxiety. It also helps to reduce the effects of hyperventilation caused by panic attacks.Since the process is more complex, it is recommended that you practice this technique, so that you can successfully practice it while experiencing a panic attack. First, find a quiet place you can stay for a minimum of 15-20 minutes. Sit as you would for deep breathing with your back straight but try to be comfortable. Next, you will do at least 10 breath cycles. Each cycle will be comprised of three stages:
1. Inhale, count 5
2. Hold breath, count 7
3. Exhale, count 9
*When you breathe in, make sure that you're breathing deeply in the lower abdomen.
Besides deep breathing, you can also practice these other techniques when experiencing any signs of anxiety.
3. Co2 Rebreathing is great practice when hyperventilating. It may feel that you are getting too much oxygen, but in reality you are getting enough and your carbon dioxide levels are decreasing. Co2 Rebreathing is thought to decrease the intensity of anxiety symptoms. First, cup your hands over your mouth and breathe slowly. Using a paper bag may also be helpful. The concept of this practice is to prevent the expulsion of carbon dioxide and put it back into your lungs in order to regain the balance of Co2 in your system.Hold it over your face when you breathe, and keep breathing as you would normally to regain your carbon dioxide levels.
4. Abdominal breathing works best before a stressful event. To start, put one hand on your chest and the other on your belly. Then, take a deep breath in through the nose, making sure the diaphragm (not the chest) inflates with enough air to create a stretch in the lungs. Aim for 6-10 deep, slow breaths per minute for 10 minutes each day to experience immediate reductions to heart rate and blood pressure. Deep breathing, or really any breathing exercise, can be hard to master at first, but it offers many benefits when mastered, especially to those who experience anxiety or panic attacks. These exercises will not only reduce your anxiety, but also leave you feeling relaxed and calm.
Anxiety is physically draining, a social killer, and just zaps the fun out of everything. Deep breathing allows your to take control of your life and feel empowered that you are doing everything you can to feel better!
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