Remembering to stay calm and breathe correctly is very important for people who struggle with anxiety. When a person begins to feel anxious or slip into an anxiety or panic attack, one of the body’s automatic responses is to breathe in short, rapid breaths, which can cause negative side effects. These side effects include but are not limited to lack of oxygen to the brain, decreased blood flow throughout the body, pains or numbness in the hands/ feet or arms/legs, and more. This only exacerbates the experience of anxiety, one way to deal with this is through breathing exercises.
Breathing exercises are used in order to ensure that this doesn’t happen to you or someone you care about. Simply following the breathing exercises listed below will help people with anxiety feel grounded and safe and will help reduce their anxiety.
This is the most simple form of breathing because we all do it naturally. To ensure that you are doing this breathing properly, sit up straight, keep your shoulders relaxed, and breathe in slowly and deeply through your nose. Once you’ve reached your breath intake capacity, release the breath through your mouth. Making a “wooshing” sound through your lips as you do this will help focus the mind into the present moment and the relaxation of the action can help reduce anxiety quicker.
This type of breathing may be hard for some, especially for people who experience anxiety through aggressive hyperventilating, however, it is a very grounding and helpful exercise. To do this, breathe in through your nose for 4 seconds, hold the breath for 4 seconds, breathe out for 4 seconds, and hold for 4 seconds. If you cannot manage 4 seconds, try doing this in intervals of 3 seconds instead.
To perform this exercise, sit down (if possible) and close your eyes. Keep your back straight and your shoulders relaxed. Then breathe in through your nose and out through your mouth, deeply. With each breath in and out, try to focus on the way your breath moves through you. Notice how your chest rises and falls, the way the breath feels on your nose, the shape of your lips as you exhale, etc. Noticing these aspects will help you focus on the present moment again.
Anxiety is a very common condition. Many people suffer in silence and don’t receive the help that they need and deserve. If you suffer from anxiety, consider visiting a counselor today. A professional counselor at Mindset First can help you determine the triggers of your anxiety and help you find adequate coping mechanisms. Call Mindset First today at 905.660.9284 to book an appointment.