If you struggle to manage anxiety symptoms in your daily life, you have plenty of company. The Anxiety and Depression Association of America estimates anxiety is the most prevalent mental health challenge in the U.S., affecting nearly 20% of our nation’s adults in any given year. Some all-natural remedies – especially breathing techniques – can help relieve anxiety, allowing you to live a happier lifestyle. Today, we’ll take a closer look at some of these beneficial breathing exercises.
1. Take Longer Exhales
Most of us know that deep breathing can help with anxiety, especially if you’re having a panic attack. However, inhaling deeply might not always help you find the calm you crave. Taking too many deep breaths too quickly can cause hyperventilation, which cuts down on the amount of oxygen-rich blood that circulates to your brain.
Instead of risking hyperventilation, focus on your exhales instead. Consciously push all the air out of your lungs, then inhale as usual. Then, try to spend the next several minutes taking longer exhales than inhales. For example, if you breathe in for four seconds, breathe out for a count of six. You can do this breathing exercise anytime you’re feeling stressed or panicky and need to take a few moments to collect yourself.
2. Notice Your Breath
When you’re feeling anxious, you might start taking shallower, more rapid breaths that come directly from the chest. If your anxiety is overwhelming, you may not even be aware you’re breathing this way. Shallow breathing and an elevated heart rate are two especially scary panic attack symptoms that lead some sufferers to feel like they might be dying. Breathing from your belly instead of your chest is a technique that can help you settle down.
If your anxiety often causes you to breathe from your chest, it’s vital to become aware of your breath. The quickest way to determine your breathing pattern is to place one hand on your upper abdomen near your waist and the other in the middle of your chest. As you breathe in and out, notice which hand raises the most. If you’re breathing properly, it should be the hand on your abdomen.
3. 4-7-8 Breathing
Once you’ve gotten into the habit of breathing from your belly instead of your chest, you’re ready to start practicing an exercise that uses abdominal breathing to help you relax. You can do this either sitting or lying down somewhere quiet and comfortable.
- To start, put one hand on your abdomen and the other on your chest, as described above.
- Take a deep, slow breath from your belly, mentally counting to four as you breathe in.
- Hold your breath, and slowly count to seven.
- Exhale fully as you silently count to eight. Try to expel all the air from your lungs by the time you finish counting.
- Repeat this at least three times, or until you feel calm.
- Notice how you feel at the end of the exercise. Are you holding tension anywhere in your body, such as your shoulders, neck or jawline? If so, take time for another few rounds of 4-7-8 breathing to release out of it.
Relearning Healthy Coping Mechanisms
If you are living with anxiety and looking for ways to unburden yourself from the symptoms, you can use these breathing exercises and other practical, drug-free ways to overcome it. Don’t jeopardize your addiction recovery with risky or self-destructive coping mechanisms. If you are in earnest about pursuing long-term sobriety and looking for the structure to help you achieve your goals, our high-accountability sober living can benefit you. Start your new life by contacting us today.