Breathing techniques to try when you're feeling stressed or anxious. How many times have you heard that advice when you're in the middle of a stress-induced meltdown? The problem, though, is that many of us don't know how to properly breathe to calm ourselves down. We know the general in and out thing, but when we're anxious it's all too easy to start speed-breathing with no way to stop, or become so self-aware of our body that we forget how to breathe without thinking about it. Breathwork can be a handy strategy for dealing with stress and anxiety, giving us simple guides to adjust our breathing and thus boost our mood. By encouraging us to count our breaths, the exercise gives us something to focus on and makes sure our breath is properly regulated - rather than being anxious gasps for air. Below, for National Stress Day and any other time you need them, we've chatted to some breathing experts (yes, those exist) to gather some simple techniques we can all master. Breathing technique for general anxiety: Basic box breathing This is your go-to breathing technique for dealing with anxiety.
Rebecca Dennis, the author of And Breathe, explains: 'When people feel anxious they tend to breathe shallowly, in their chest and often hold their breath. Box breathing is a technique that can help calm thoughts, bring us back into the present moment and release tension. It's a simple technique that's easy to learn and one you can do anywhere. 'Box breathing can help handle even the most stressful of situations by focusing on deep breathing. It's a technique used by SAS to focus and ground in highly stressful situations. You can use this whether you are stuck in heavy traffic, feel some nerves before presenting or taking an exam.'
So Here is How You Do It:
- Inhale through the nose for a count of four - Hold this breath for a count of four - Release the breath out through the nose for a count of four - Hold for a count of four Easy, right? You can do this cycle as many times as you like, making sure to focus on breathing from the lower belly instead of the upper chest. Rebecca suggests placing one or both of your hands on your abdomen or sides to feel the lower part of your belly rise as you breathe in.
Breathing Techniques to De-Stress: The Double Calm Breath
The double calm breath is one often used over at Breathpod, a breathwork coaching organisation. Breathpod founder Stuart Sandeman talks us through the technique, which is done simply by doubling the length of the exhale to the inhale. - Inhale through the nose for a count of four - Exhale through pursed lips for a count of eight - Inhale for a count of five through the nose - Exhale through pursed lips for a count of 10 - Inhale through the nose for a count of six - Exhale through pursed lips for a count of 12 If the increase in lengths is difficult, don't panic. You can stick to inhaling for four and exhaling for eight - do whatever makes you feel most relaxed. Take a deep breath in. Now let it out. You may notice a difference in how you feel already. Your breath is a powerful tool to ease stress and make you feel less anxious. Some simple breathing exercises can make a big difference if you make them part of your regular routine.
Have you ever noticed how you breathe when you feel relaxed? The next time you are relaxed, take a moment to notice how your body feels. Or think about how you breathe when you first wake up in the morning or just before you fall asleep. Breathing exercises can help you relax, because they make your body feel like it does when you are already relaxed. Deep breathing is one of the best ways to lower stress in the body. This is because when you breathe deeply, it sends a message to your brain to calm down and relax. The brain then sends this message to your body. Those things that happen when you are stressed, such as increased heart rate, fast breathing, and high blood pressure, all decrease as you breathe deeply to relax. Experiment with whatever ratio feels comfortable to you, and see if it helps you to feel relaxed. The act of counting as you breathe still helps you to maintain a steady pace and keep your mind on your breath and the present moment, so it is still more effective than simply breathing regularly and unconsciously.
Visualization Breathing: Inflating the Balloon
Get into a comfortable position, close your eyes, and begin breathing in through your nose and out through your mouth. As you inhale, imagine that your abdomen is inflating with air like a balloon. As you exhale, imagine that the air is escaping the balloon slowly. Remember, you do not have to force the air out; it simply escapes on its own, in its own time. You may want to imagine the balloon as your favorite color, or that you are floating higher in the sky with each breath if this is relaxing for you. Regardless, the "inflating balloon" visualization can help you to breathe deeply from your diaphragm rather than engaging in shallow breathing that can come from stress.