I want to show you some breathing techniques for anxiety. Anxiety often results in breathing which is too fast and shallow, coming from the chest instead of the abdomen. This bad breathing tends to be part of a vicious circle that leads to more anxiety and panic attacks.
It is important to get into the habit of good breathing and know some breathing techniques for anxiety attacks that you can use when you are feeling anxious or stressed.
Muscle Tension and Posture
One cause of bad breathing is having a hunched, tight posture that keeps the upper-body tense. So when practising breathing techniques or when suffering anxiety it is important to start by relaxing the upper-body as much as possible. This is not as hard as it sounds. Just drop the shoulders a little and allow your jaw to hang. Close your eyes if possible and imagine all the muscles in your face and neck, and on your scalp, relaxing down, as if under gravity. See it in your mind’s eye.
Breathing Technique (1) – 10 minutes
Sit or lie comfortably. Relax as above. Bring your attention to your breathing and place one hand on your navel.
Breath in slowly through your nose to the count of three and feel your stomach move out slightly, as the air goes all the way down into your abdomen.
Breath out to a count of four through your nose. Don’t try and rush the breath, just let it leave. Everything should be slow and relaxed and natural.
Don’t make a conscious effort to breath in again. Your body will automatically start to breath in when it’s ready. Don’t rush it.
Continue this seven second breathing cycle for ten minutes or whatever feels comfortable. If it feels uncomfortable then stop at once.
Try and do this every day. But also take a few of these seven second breaths throughout the day, just a few cycles, and then forget your breathing and got on with whatever you were doing. This way you will start to form good breathing habits.
Breathing Technique (2) – as long as you want.
Relax physically as much as possible, as described above. Don’t worry if you are still feeling tense.
Take a slow breath through your nose down into your stomach, but as you breathe concentrate on the tips of your fingers and your toes. Feel as if you are breathing right into the extremities of your body.
Now imagine that the breath is actually entering your body through the souls of your feet and your fingertips. It’s not as crazy as it sounds and is incredibly relaxing.
Just keep your breaths slow and regular and allow your body to draw an in-breath when it’s ready. Don’t make the breaths so deep, slow and regular is fine.
Always stop breathing technique exercises if you feel discomfort. Also, you might want to build up the amount of time you spend doing these exercises, just start with what you can cope with, and what makes you feel good.
I recommend reading the seminal work on the subject:Hyperventilation Syndrome: Breathing Pattern Disorders and How to Overcome Them USA version Hyperventilation Syndrome: Breathing Pattern Disorder UK / Europe version and Self-Help for Hyperventilation Syndrome: Recognizing and Correcting Your Breathing Pattern Disorder USA version. The author of these books, Dinah Bradley, is a worldwide authority on Chronic Hyperventilation Syndrome.