Being anxious or stressed from time to time is normal.
In fact, scientists have found that some degree of stress is actually beneficial for us.
A little bit of stress known as “good stress” or eustress can be good motivators and catalysts for our personal growth.
However, when stress becomes uncontrollable and your anxiety becomes all-consuming, you may already be suffering from an anxiety disorder.
Anxiety disorder is a common medical condition characterized by persistent and excessive worry about ordinary or routine events in life.
In the United States alone, it was found that more than 18 percent of adults are affected by this disorder each year.
Most people deal with their anxiety by seeking medical help.
This can be either through cognitive behavioral therapy or using antidepressants and SSRIs such as Zoloft, Prozac, and Celexa.
Recently, studies on slow breathing and breath control have found that there might be a psycho-physiological benefit to the activity—one of these benefits is reducing anxiety.
Breathing Techniques: Where Do They Come From?
Breath exercises are currently growing in popularity because of their amazing ability to relax our bodies, lower blood pressure and promote feelings of calm.
But where did they originate?
To understand the concept of breathing, we must go a thousand years back even more.
Slow breathing techniques or more popularly known today as Breathwork is not a new concept, in fact, breathing techniques have long been studied by Zen teachers and yogic masters in India, China and Japan.
Evidence from historical accounts proves that breathing techniques were used to treat different kinds of physical and emotional ailments in various traditional and shamanic cultures.
During this time, many healers believe in the strong connection between our breath, mind, and spirit.
They found that alteration of breathing patterns have effects on human consciousness.
According to Taisen Deshimaru, a Japanese Sōtō Zen Buddhist teacher in his book The Way of True Zen “Breathing is the connecting link between the conscious and the subconscious, between body and mind”.
He believes that we, humans, have an innate ability to control our body and mind to work harmoniously through breathing.
And this is true, through breathing consciously, we can control our brain and switch from the Sympathetic Nervous System (fight or flight response) to Parasympathetic Nervous System (rest and digest system).
Types of Breathing Exercises
One of the many reasons, breath-work is so powerful is because it’s an activity focused on the present.
It trains our brains to develop sensitivity to the present moment.
It’s an amazing technique to reduce disturbing thoughts of our past or fear of the future.
Breathing exercises come in many forms and techniques.
Discover some of the most common breathing exercises below.
Deep breathing also called belly breathing or abdominal breathing is a technique that focuses on breathing using the muscles of your diaphragm.
This breathing method allows the complete flow of oxygen to your body which results in a stabilized blood pressure and a slow heartbeat.
When you’re anxious your breathing patterns are disrupted.
The goal of mindful breathing is to teach your body how to reset back to normal breathing patterns.
- Deep breathing is a great way to relax and reduce the stress and anxiety of any kind.
- It can lower stress hormones. When you are anxious, your brain releases “cortisol” the stress hormone which in large amounts can lead to a condition called the Cushing syndrome. This is characterized by rapid weight gain, high blood pressure, and osteoporosis.
- Deep breathing increases your energy by providing more oxygen in your blood for better body functions. It can also reduce muscular tension and improve your blood circulation.
How To Do Deep Breathing
- Find a quiet room or space. Switch into a relaxing position (lie down on the floor or recline in a chair). Remove any tight clothing that could affect your breathing. Remove glasses or contact the close your eyes.
- Place your hand on your upper chest and the other one on your belly.
- Take slow deep breaths through your nose. Hold your breath for 2 seconds before slowly breathing the air out through your mouth.
- Feel the natural flow of your breath. Notice how air flows inside and out of your body.
- Try doing this for five minutes or until you feel relaxed. Gradually increase your time every day until you’re comfortable with 20-30 minutes.
Breath focus is another simple breathing exercise you can do on a regular basis.
You might notice that when you try deep breathing, your mind constantly “thinks” or “wanders”.
This is normal but if you want to improve your concentration, try breath focus.
This relaxation technique involves the use of a focus word or phrase as you do deep rhythmic breathing.
- This breathing technique can help you disengage from thoughts while deep breathing. It’s especially helpful for beginners and individuals who get easily distracted.
How To Do Deep Breathing
- Try deep breathing for several minutes. You can do this sitting or lying down in a comfortable position.
- Proceed on doing deep breathing but this time use a focus word or phrase to help you relax. It could be anything—a motivating phrase, an affirmation, or simply say “Breathing in positivity” and as you exhale “Breathing out negativity”.
- When you inhale, imagine you’re breathing success, happiness, and love—when you exhale imagine you’re letting go of anger, jealousy, and loneliness.
- Gradually increase the time until you’re comfortable doing this activity for as long as 20 minutes. Ideally, you want to do this every single day and at the same hour each day.
Is your anxiety affecting your sleep?
Try the 4-7-8 breathing technique.
We all know how important getting a night of good sleep is for our bodies.
Developed by Dr. Andrew Weil, 4-7-8, is a breathing pattern exercise that’s widely known for its sleep-inducing benefits.
This breathing technique puts your body in a state of deep relaxation that overcomes the feeling of anxiety and stress.
- Deep relaxation that can reduce anxiety.
- Sleep-inducing breath-work patterns found to help with insomnia and anxiety-related sleeping problems.
How To Do 4-7-8 Breathing
- Find a quiet place to lay down or sit comfortably. Relax your body. Notice your body’s weight. Feel the senses from the floor, chair, pillow, or anything that touches you.
- Relax your jaw muscles and keep your mouth closed.
- Exhale deeply through your mouth making a whoosh sound.
- Breathe in for 4 seconds through your nose. Make sure that when you breathe in you’re using your diaphragm.
- Hold your breath for 7 seconds then slowly exhale through your mouth again making a whoosh sound as you count to 8.
- Repeat the breathing pattern at least 10 times or until you feel the sense of calm flow in.
Powerful Breath-work Tools and Accessories
Breath-work is a form of self care you can do almost anywhere and anytime.
To make the most of each session, experts highly recommend using tools and accessories to aid your focus or make your ambiance more suitable.
Improve your breathing exercises with the following items:
Mindful Breathing Necklace
Mindful breathing necklaces are powerful accessories to promote better breathing through deep exhalation.
It comes with a whistle like pendant which you can exhale to (no whistle sound).
Testimonials claim that this necklace is effective in reducing anxiety and promote feelings of calm.
These apps often provide step by step relaxation instructions that are easy to follow.
Regular use of these apps can promote positive breath-work and meditation habits.
Completely rest your body and mind with meditation cushions.
Meditation cushions help you reduce stress and increase your relaxation during breathing exercises.
You can use them to lie down or sit comfortably while performing deep breathing sessions.
The more comfortable you are during the session, the more motivated you’ll feel and will likely to do it consistently.
We use essential oils for various purposes.
These powerful plant extracts are used in beauty products, healing tonics, and even cooking.
Essential oils can also be used to enhance breath-work because of their natural ability to improve oxygen flow and give you a more focused mind.
Final Word: Breathing is a reflection of our mind….
The study of breathing reveals so much about the connection between our mind and body.
When your breath is fast and uneasy, chances are you’re confused or feeling anxious.
The opposite is true if you’re feeling calm and relaxed.
From this, we can conclude that one of the best ways to instantly reduce anxiety is to perform breathing techniques.
Being consistent can also help you feel less anxious more often.
Try to do breathing exercises once or twice each day.
You’ll also find this habit easier if you do it first thing in the morning or before you go to bed at night.
Find the best time for you that fits your schedule perfectly.
If you have any questions, ask them below.
I’m always happy to help!
Interested in jewelry for stress relief?
Check out this article!