Anxiety is a normal response to stress and is part of the fight-or-flight response when faced with physical or emotional threats. Anxiety can become overwhelming that can cause unease, distress, or dread. Experts recommend breathing exercises as a coping mechanism for anxiety. It will help slow heart rates and feel calm. We will go over five different breathing exercises and how to do them, as well as other ways to deal with anxiety.
- Deep breathing
You can do this exercise while sitting, standing, or lying down. To deep breathe:
- Relax your tummy
- Place one hand just beneath the ribs
- Breathe in slowly and deeply through your nose, notice your hand rising
- Breathe out through your mouth, notice your hand falling
- Quiet response
This method combines deep breathing with visualization to help reduce stress and anxiety. Start by relaxing all of your muscles in your face and shoulders. Imagine having holes in the soles of your feet.
- Take a deep breath, visualize your breath as hot air entering your body through the holes in the soles of your feet
- Imagine the hot air flowing up your legs, through your tummy, and then filling your lungs
- Relax each muscle as the hot air passes it
- Breathe out slowly, imaging the air passing from your lungs back to the tummy, then the legs, before leaving your body through the holes in the soles of your feet.
- Repeat until calm
- Mindful breathing
Mindful breathing helps people focus on the here and now. To practice mindful breathing, you should sit or lie in a comfortable position with your eyes open or closed.
- Inhale through your nose until the tummy expands
- Slowly let the breath out through the mouth
- Once settled into the patter, focus on the breath coming through your nose and our through your mouth
- Notice the rise and fall of your tummy as the breaths come in and out
- As thoughts come into your head, notice that they are there without judgment, then let them go and bring your attention back to your breathing
- Carry on until you feel calm, then start to be aware of how your body and mind feel
- Diaphragmatic breathing
Doctors usually recommend using this breathing exercise to those with lung conditions called chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. Start by either sitting up or lying down.
- Place one hand on your tummy and the other on your upper chest
- Breath in through your nose and focus on your stomach rising
- Breathe out through pursed lips, focusing on your tummy lowering
- Repeat the cycle
- 4-7-8 breathing
This is a simple way for you to relax anywhere. Start by sitting down with your back straight and the tip of your tongue on the back of your upper front teeth.
- Breathe out through your mouth, making a whooshing sound
- Close the mouth and count to 4 while breathing in your nose
- Count to 7 while holding your breath
- Count to 8 while breathing out through your mouth, making the whooshing sound
- Inhale and repeat three times
Other things you can do to reduce anxiety:
- You can also try slowly counting to 10 or imagining a calming scene like a meadow or a beach
- Seek out Psychiatric help
- Accept that there are some things you cannot control
- Do your best rather than aiming for perfection
- Learn your triggers and the anxieties that come with them
- Limit your caffeine and alcohol intake
- Try only eating well-balanced meals
- Try to get plenty of sleep
- Get some exercise daily
You should seek a doctors help if you:
- Find that your anxiety is becoming overwhelming to deal with
- Have frequent or excessive anxiety that gets in the way of your daily activities
- Deal with your anxiety by misusing drugs or alcohol
- Notice changes in your sleeping, eating, or personal hygiene habits
- Have irrational fears
- Are self-harming or thinking about self-harming
- Have suicidal thoughts
- Feel out of control
Affiliated Family Counselors have multiple providers that specialize in anxiety and tools you can use to calm yourself down in situations where you feel out of control. If you or a loved one are in the Wichita, Kansas area, and need help, please feel free to give us a call at 316-636-2888 or visit our website at http://afcwichita.com/.
If you or someone you know is at immediate risk of self-harm, suicide, or hurting another person:
- Ask the tough question “Are you considering suicide?”
- Listen to the person without judgement
- Call 911 or your local emergency number, or you can text TALK to 741741 to communicate with a trained crisis counselor.
- Stay with the person until professional help arrives
- Try to remove any weapons, medications, or any other potentially harmful objects.
If you or someone you know is having thoughts of suicide, The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline is available 24 hours per day at 1-800-273-8255, people who are hard of hearing can call 1-800-799-4889.
Here is another helpful suicide prevention link: https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/327007#hotlines
Articles used in this post:
- The Best Breathing Exercises for Anxiety – Redorbit. https://www.redorbit.com/Best-Breathing-Exercises-for-Anxiety/