The Power of Breathing Exercises: How They Can Alleviate Anxiety and Stress

June 26, 2024

Unfortunately, anxiety and stress have become extremely common in today’s lives. In fact, anxiety disorders are the most common mental health disorder in the US and affect more than 40 million of the US population.

If you have also been feeling overwhelmed lately and have been advised to do some breathing exercises - but are absolutely clueless about how it will help you, then you’re at the right place. Just keep reading, and let me first tell you -

What are breathing exercises?

Breathing exercises are a very common way to calm your racing mind.

Although there are various kinds of breathing exercises, the most common one is to simply breathe in, hold it in for a few seconds, and then breathe out.

The best part about breathing exercises is that you can practice them almost anywhere and at any time. You also don’t need any fancy equipment or additional items in the process!

While it may seem simple, there are a few tricks that can enhance the result:

Choose a quiet place where you can peacefully practice the exercises. It might be in a comfortable chair, on the floor with a yoga mat, or on your bed.

Make sure you feel comfortable enough to practice the exercises. If you keep getting distracted, you won’t be able to reap results.

Wear comfortable, loose-fitting clothes while practicing. If your clothes are too tight or you’re not able to sit properly, it won’t allow you to do the breathing.

Try to do it at least twice a day to revel in the benefits it has to offer.

Some Amazing Benefits of Breathing Exercises

Breathing exercises might sound very simple, so simple that its benefits can be undermined. You’ll be surprised to know the calming effects it can bring to your brain when performed correctly. Here’s a list of a few of the many benefits:

1. Calms the nervous system

The main reason why breathing exercises work so well is because they trick the mind into thinking that you’re in a calmer state.

The mind is a powerful thing, and when you breathe slowly and regularly, your mind thinks that you’re happier and calmer. And in turn, this sends a signal to your body to relieve the physical symptoms that accompany stress.

2. Your focus shifts

While performing breathing exercises, your mind is focused on the exercises and not on the circumstances that have been stressing you out.

Once you shift your mind from the anxiety and stress and instead think of how to make your breathing even, you won’t be bothered about the negative triggers anymore.

3. Lowers blood pressure

People who suffer from anxiety and feelings of overwhelm often have high blood pressure. This is why expert psychiatrists from different states, counselors from abroad, and even mental health facilities in California recommend breathing exercises to lower blood pressure.

When you breathe evenly, your heart rate reduces, thereby reducing your blood pressure. This will make you feel more at ease, and your heartbeat will also become even.

4. Alleviates fatigue

Let’s be honest: handling constant anxiety is no joke. After a while, your mind becomes tired, but even then, you’re not able to tune down the rush in your brain.

Breathing exercises fill in for you here. They decrease the formation of lactic acid in the muscles, which reduces fatigue and the feeling of ongoing tiredness.

Breathing exercises to practice

Now that you know the definition and also the outstanding benefits of breathing exercises, you’re all set to perform one of the following:

1. Deep breathing

Deep breathing is the most popular form of breathing exercise. When you’re experiencing anxiety, you might take short puffs of breath that can make you feel even more anxious.

Instead, sit down for a while and breathe in through your nose until your belly is filled with air. Next, breathe out slowly, placing one hand on your belly and the other on your chest. When you breathe in, feel the rise in your belly, and feel it lower down when you breathe out.

2. Breath focus

Breath focus is much like deep breathing, except that here, you have to picture a scenery, word, or phrase to help you feel calmer. Close your eyes and try to focus on the word or picture in your mind completely.

As you breathe in, imagine that the air is filled with calmness and peace. And when you breathe out, imagine that all your stress and the triggers are leaving your body along with the rush of air.

3. Progressive muscle relaxation

Slowly relaxing your muscles is a great approach for helping your body and mind become more at ease. Here, you have to breathe in while tensing a muscle group and breathe out while releasing it.

For this, you’ll have to comfortably lie on the floor, preferably on a yoga mat. Next, take a few deep breaths until you feel a little relaxed. Breathe in and simultaneously tense the muscles in your feet or calves. While breathing out, release those muscles.

4. Modified Lion’s Breath

This breathing technique is quite unique, just like its name!

When you’re doing this, imagine that you’re a lion and release all your breath with a big, open mouth. Sit comfortably and make sure that when you breathe in, your belly is completely filled with air.

When you see that you’re not able to breathe in anymore, open your mouth wide and breathe out with a “HA” sound. Repeat this as many times as you want.

5. Equal time

You must balance the amount of time you take in and out breaths when using the equal-time breathing technique.

Inhale through your nose, count to five, and then exhale while counting to five once more. Try this several times, and slowly keep increasing your counts. Five to ten, ten to fifteen, and so on.

Conclusion

Remember, like all other wars, the war with anxiety is tough to fight alone. Reach out to loved ones or professional counselors to help you through this dark phase. And if nothing else works, you can always visit a healthcare professional for medical advice!

 

 

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