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Mental Health,  Self Care

Breathing Your Way to a Calmer Mind and Body

If you suffer from anxiety, nothing is worse than feeling that familiar throat-clenching and chest-grabbing lack of oxygen that threatens to make you hyperventilate, pass out, or both. It’s really hard to get yourself back on track when you suffer from severe anxiety. You can ask your doctor for medication to help you but you can also try some simple breathing techniques to help you deal better with being anxious.

Realize What Anxiety Is – Everyone is born with a fight or flight response and severe anxiety is simply that natural response that went a little haywire. It is natural to feel anxious in most of the situations that you probably feel that way in. But realize that even though your heart is beating rapidly, you’re not likely to actually die from anxiety.

crop psychologist taking notes during appointment

Stop and Stay – Instead of allowing the panic response to take over when you are feeling extreme anxiety, stop and stay. If you allow yourself to escape, you’ll just train your body to keep up the overreaction response to normal stimuli. Instead, stop, and focus on something that is likely to be in any room, such as a light fixture or a clock.

Breathe in Deeply and Slowly – When your heart starts pounding and your breathing gets rapid, you tend to take in too much oxygen. The results of too much oxygen are rapid heartbeat, euphoric feelings and maybe even tingling hands and feet. Stop and close your mouth, breathe in very slowly from your nose filling your chest with air, and then very slowly let the air out by blowing it in a controlled manner out your mouth.

Try Holding Your Breath – If breathing slowly isn’t working, slowly actually try holding your breath first to help stop the panic feelings almost immediately. By stopping too much oxygen from going to your brain, you can give your body a chance to catch up so that you can practice the deep breathing method above.

Practice Makes Perfect – Most things in life do not come naturally, and neither does breathing like this. When you’re not in an anxious situation, try practicing deep breathing for about 10 minutes each day. Sit or stand in a comfortable manner with the upper body erect to give your lungs a lot of room. Breathe in deeply and slowly, pulling air in all the way to the bottom of your lungs and then letting the air out very slowly.

Practice Monitored Breathing – Do the above exercises and alternate between that and normal breathing. Most of us have got into the habit of very shallow breathing, which actually keeps us deprived of oxygen until we are having a panic attack, then we overdose. So when you do normal breathing, think about it carefully. Ensure that you are breathing into your diaphragm. Think about how a baby looks when he is breathing. That’s the right way.

woman closing her eyes against sun light standing near purple petaled flower plant

Breathing properly during times of stress can help you reduce your anxiety levels many times over, but you need to practice doing it when you are not anxious to ensure that you can take control of the situation when you are anxious. If your partner is with you, teach him or her to help you breathe by reminding you to stop, stay and breathe.

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Stephanie Pick
11 days ago

A very helpful post, thank you! Learning to make use of the tools we have available to us is so empowering.

Hannah
11 days ago

I really need to start on some regular breathwork. I know it will help me so thank you for the reminder!

Katie
11 days ago

I love breath work and recommend this with my clients all the time!

Akansha
4 days ago

I always say breathing is the most powerful tool humans have. And your post explains it beautifully. Thank you!

Nikki
4 days ago

Great reminder to be a bit more mindful of my breath. Thank you 🙂