These 10 Breathing Exercises Can Help You Feel Calmer Right Now

Even though there are a lot of stressors in the world right now that you can’t completely avoid, you can put measures in place to help you regulate your own emotions and lessen your anxiety. Additionally, the breath is a fantastic resource that you currently use continuously throughout the day. Yep, during the COVID-19 pandemic, breathing exercises for anxiety have become popular, and as many people have discovered after giving them a try, these stress-relieving methods can truly help when you’re feeling overwhelmed.

ICYMI, being anxious is fairly common. According to the Anxiety & Depression Association of America, it is the most prevalent mental disorder in the US and affects close to 40 million Americans annually. (That is slightly more than 18% of the population!)

So, exactly how can breathing assist? According to Rachel L. Goldman, PhD, a clinical psychologist in private practice and a clinical assistant professor of psychiatry at the NYU Grossman School of Medicine, your breathing patterns have an impact on your heart rate, blood pressure, and nervous system, all of which contribute to your body’s levels of anxiety and stress.

For instance, shallow breathing often entails taking faster, shorter mouth breaths while only getting a small amount of air into your lungs (think: using only your upper chest to breathe). According to Goldman, this style of breathing generally results in stress, fear, worry, tension, and discomfort since it tells your body to enter the “flight” reaction.

On the other hand, deep breathing typically involves using your chest to bring air to your diaphragm while drawing air deeply into your lungs through your nose. The outcome? You’re able to lower your blood pressure and pulse rate while getting more oxygen to your brain. According to Goldman, it also sends a message to your body that you may unwind and are safe, which is why it’s so effective at reducing anxiety.

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How do breathing exercises help relieve anxiety?

Breathing exercises can, in essence, help you reduce your overall stress and anxiety levels and stop them from rising. The key, according to Goldman, is to consistently put them into practice rather than just when you’re feeling uncomfortable.

Taking as many breaths as necessary to feel calmer, he says, “I usually encourage to my customers that they practice a few times daily, such as first thing in the morning and immediately before night.” According to Goldman, that amounts to three to four breaths on average.

In case you missed it, Goldman says that simply taking a moment to unwind after waking up, you may set the tone for the rest of the day. You can refocus and enter a tranquil condition before bed by doing this before going to sleep.

You can start using these exercises explicitly during stressful moments once you’re comfortable doing them, according to Goldman. Ultimately, the quickest method to reach a physiologically zen condition is to take these deep breaths.

Important information: Goldman advises stopping the breathing exercises if you sense that they are increasing your tension at any moment and trying them again later.

10 Breathing Techniques For Anxiety Reduction

Let’s now dive into the details. You can try the breathing techniques listed below for anxiety, according to experts.

1.Box Breathing

Box breathing, also known as four-square breathing, is a simple activity that can engage both your mind and body, according to Goldman, making it excellent for psychological distraction as intervention as slowing the body down during stress.

  1. Start by inhaling for a count of four seconds.
  2. Hold your breath for a count of four.
  3. Then exhale for a count of four.
  4. Optional: Close your eyes and envision building and breaking down a one-dimensional square box as you go.

2. 4-7-8 Breathing

If you’re not a seasoned deep breather, don’t push yourself to try this exercise because it’s a little harder to remember. However, because you concentrate on your breath for twice as long when you’re breathing out as you do when you’re breathing in, it can help you calm your nervous system and deal with stress.

  1. Sit in a chair or comfortable position.
  2. Start by completely exhaling out of your mouth.
  3. Inhale into your nose for four seconds.
  4. Hold that breath for seven seconds.
  5. Exhale out of your mouth for eight seconds

3. Triangle Breathing

According to Chloe Carmichael, PhD, a clinical psychologist in New York, who serves as Women’s Health’s advisor, triangle breathing is similar to box breathing in that it calls for you to count your breaths and picture a specific shape in your mind. This one is for you if you think that using too many numbers can be confusing because you won’t need to use more than three.

  1. Sit in a comfortable position.
  2. Breathe in through your nose for three counts.
  3. Hold your breath for three counts.
  4. Breathe out through your mouth for three counts.
  5. Optional: Close your eyes and envision building and breaking down a one-dimensional triangle as you go.

4. The Diaphragmatic Breath

Both personally and professionally, Goldman uses this method. Since you might be used to shallow breathing at your chest, it may feel awkward at first to focus on your diaphragm. According to Goldman, it’s very simple for beginners to learn because they might not know how to breathe deeply or how to do it correctly.

  1. Start by placing one hand on your chest and one on your diaphragm (though you don’t *need* to involve your hands if you don’t want to).
  2. Take a breath in through your nose.
  3. Make sure your belly is expanding as you breathe in.
  4. Pause for a moment.
  5. Then, breathe out through your mouth.

5. Tactical Breathing

According to Carmichael, one technique to help you breathe more deeply and slowly is to breathe through your nostrils rather than your mouth. The breathing through your nose and counting that you do while using this technique, she says, “help you home in on a different script rather than panicking or remaining anxious.”

  1. Find a comfortable seated position.
  2. Inhale through your nose for four seconds.
  3. Pause for a moment.
  4. Exhale through your nose for four seconds.

6. Straw Breathing

You might want to think about using a breathing technique that can lower your temperature if it increases when you become anxious. One of those techniques, according to Carmichael, is straw breathing, which causes a cooling sensation in the mouth.

  1. Contort your mouth into a tight “O,” as if you’re blowing a kiss. Optional: Grab an actual straw to breathe through.
  2. Inhale through the straw or “O” shape.
  3. Pause for a beat.
  4. Exhale through the straw or “O” shape.

7. Mantra Breathing

According to Goldman, adding some words to emphasize relaxation and focus your attention on the breath may be helpful if you’re having trouble using the conventional breathing exercises to refocus yourself.

  1. Say the words “breathe in” to yourself (Or another mantra you want to repeat).
  2. Breathe in through your nose.
  3. Pause for a moment.
  4. Say the words “breathe out” to yourself.
  5. Breathe out through your mouth.

8.Breath of Fire

Do you need a boost of energy to get through the rest of the day because you’ve hit that four o’clock slump? According to mindfulness expert and BrainTap creator Patrick K. Porter, PhD, this one is ideal for you. This energizing technique can recharge your battery sufficiently to keep you going through the day if you are feeling tired but need to continue with your day.

  1. Inhale through your nose as rapidly as possible.
  2. Hold in your stomach, pulling your navel tight toward your back.
  3. Keeping your stomach tight, exhale through your nose as quickly as you can.
  4. Continue breathing in and out in rapid succession about 15 to 20 times or, alternatively, until you run out of breath.
  5. Pause for a moment.
  6. Take a few deep breaths, then repeat exercise up to five times.

9. Finger Breathing

Anyone who struggles with being present and feels as though they simply can’t escape their own thoughts should try this exercise, according to Goldman. It is a more all-encompassing experience than the others, which mainly concentrate on breathwork, and it engages all of your senses.

  1. Sit in a comfortable position.
  2. Put your left hand facing palm-up on your lap.
  3. As you breathe in, with your right hand, trace up your thumb with one finger.
  4. As you breathe out, trace your thumb in a downward motion.
  5. Trace through all five fingers or until you feel calm.

10. Cocoon Breathing

Try the cocoon breath, advises Carmichael, if you need some serious tension relief. This method is excellent for when you feel like you need some alone time to gather your thoughts because it gives users a sense of “privacy, boundaries, and deep exhalation,” according to Carmichael.

  1. Inhale with your eyes open.
  2. Pause for a moment.
  3. Exhale, closing your eyes.
  4. As you exhale, envision that you are drawing a curtain down over yourself.
  5. Repeat this as many times as needed, and with each exhale, imagine that you are enveloping yourself deeper with each breath.

It’s time for you to put these breathing techniques for anxiety to use now that you have them at your disposal. If your first attempt is difficult, give up and try again in a day or two. You shouldn’t rush the process of learning breathing methods.

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