Try some breathing exercises at any time, from literally anywhere, as an effective way to calm anxiety. They can be done while you’re walking, while you’re in a meeting, while you’re doing your grocery shopping, or even while you’re in your car at a red light. Breathing exercises do not need to be done in silence and do not take an exorbitant amount of time. However, if you can find a quiet place where you can sit peacefully, that can be helpful.
Deep breathing is one of the best ways to lower stress in the body. When you breathe deeply, it sends a message to your brain to calm down and activates your parasympathetic nervous system. So, sit back and learn these easy ways to relax, reduce tension, and relieve stress.
1. Inhale for 4 – Exhale for 5
Begin in an upright sitting position with your legs crossed in front of your body, maintaining good alignment with your head, shoulders, and hips. Place your hands on your knees. Close your eyes and take a slow deep belly in through your nose, counting to 4 seconds. Then, slowly exhale through your mouth, counting for 5 seconds. Repeat the movement.
Find the combination that works for you, making sure to exhale longer than you inhale.
This technique also referred to as Paced Breathing. It helps activate the stress reduction mechanisms in your body. It also develops a harmonious state between your respiration system and your heart.
Inevitably your mind might start to wander while doing these breathing exercises. When this happens, simply try to focus your attention on a specific object, like an image, a sound, or even your own breathing to free your mind from distractions. When you think of the sensation of breathing and what it feels like to breathe while you’re counting, you cut off anxious thoughts and are drawn back to the present. Use this as a way to ground yourself in the present moment, since often our minds are flying in a million different directions at once.
2. Box Breathing for Calming Anxiety
Another effective technique for calming anxiety is Box Breathing. Begin in an upright sitting position with your legs crossed in front of your body, maintaining good alignment with your head, shoulders, and hips. Place your hands on your knees. Close your eyes and take a slow deep belly breath in through your nose, counting to 4 seconds, then hold your breath for another 4 seconds. Slowly exhale through your mouth for 4 seconds, holding your lungs empty for the last 4 seconds. Repeat the movement.
This technique is also called Four-Square Breathing. It is considered a simple yet powerful relaxation technique that aims to return your breathing to its normal rhythm. Box breathing helps to clear your mind, relax your body, and improve your focus. This breathing technique is usually helpful for people with high-stress jobs, like the military and police officers. If you want to re-center yourself or need to improve your concentration, you may want to give Box Breathing a try.
3. 4-7-8 Breathing for Calming Anxiety
Begin in an upright sitting position with your legs crossed in front of your body, maintaining good alignment with your head, shoulders, and hips. Place your hands on your knees. Close your eyes and take a slow deep belly breath in through your nose. Count to 4 seconds, then hold your breath for a count of 7 seconds. Round your lips in a small circle as you slowly exhale completely through your mouth to a count of 8 seconds, making a whooshing sound. Repeat the movement.
The 4-7-8 breathing technique is also called Relaxing Breathing. This was developed by Dr. Andrew Weil, an American celebrity doctor and teacher of Integrative Medicine. This breathing technique is based on pranayama breathing exercises, the ancient yogic practice of controlling our breath. Dr. Weil also refers to this breathing technique as a “natural tranquilizer for the nervous system”. The 4-7-8 breathing technique has been shown to have many benefits, like decreasing anxiety, improving sleep quality, managing food cravings, and even controlling emotional responses like anger.
When you’re a beginner, you may feel lightheaded at first, so it is advisable to perform this technique from sitting or lying down to prevent dizziness or falls. You can start by doing four cycles, twice a day. As you master this technique, you can increase the cycles to eight and eventually do this as often as you want or need.
With all of life’s daily demands, the need to escape, even for just a short while, is completely understandable. The good thing is, we all can. Find a private, quiet spot away from the crowd to go through these simple breathing exercises. This is the best way to calm your mind in this often-chaotic world. A simple 3 to 5-minute breathing break can help combat stress and anxiety and allow you to carry on with your day with a sense of serenity.
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