Breathing is a necessary part of existence, but did you know that breathing can also help you relieve stress and anxiety? Blood cells take in oxygen and release carbon dioxide when you breathe in. Breathing incorrectly can disrupt the exchange of oxygen and carbon dioxide, which can lead to anxiety, panic attacks, exhaustion, and other mental and physical disorders.
At times, you may feel that your stress and anxiety have reached new levels. You may have felt overwhelmingly stressed when you couldn’t turn in an assignment on time, or felt anxiety wash over you as you walked over to the class podium for a presentation. Or perhaps your stress and anxiety seem ever-present and unrelenting.
As a result, it may be difficult for you to do seemingly simple tasks since you’re too overwhelmed by your anxious thoughts and stressful to-do list.
6 Breathing Exercises to Relieve Anxiety & Stress
Depending on the kind of breathing exercise you're doing, how you breathe in and out will vary. Some breathing exercises may instruct you to breathe in and out through your nose, while others may have you breathe gently through your mouth.
There are several such exercises for anxiety that you can try the next time you're feeling nervous. Here are some techniques that can be used to reduce stress and anxiety:
1) 4-7-8 Breathing Exercise
Relaxing breath, commonly known as the 4-7-8 breathing exercise, calms the nervous system naturally. It's recommended to begin by performing the exercise while seated and with your back straight. However, you can practice this exercise while resting in bed once you get more accustomed to it.
Here's how you can do it:
- For the length of the workout, press the tip of your tongue against the tissue ridge behind your top front teeth.
- Make a whooshing sound as you completely exhale through your mouth.
- Then, quietly inhale through your nose while counting to four in your head.
- For seven counts, hold your breath.
- Make a whooshing sound while exhaling through your mouth, counting to eight.
2) Belly Breathing
People with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, a lung disorder, are typically advised to breathe through the diaphragm. According to one study, it may also help alleviate anxiety. Start this breathing exercise by either sitting up or lying down. You can then follow these steps:
- Put one hand on the upper chest and the other on the stomach.
- Inhale through your nostrils, and pay attention to the rise of your stomach.
- With your lips pursed, exhale while concentrating on bringing your belly down.
- Continue the cycle.
3) Slow Breathing
According to experts, slow breathing is a type of breathing that occurs four to ten times per minute. Humans typically take between 10 and 20 breaths per minute in terms of respiratory rate. Breathing that is hurried, shallow, and unfocused can be a factor in a variety of issues, including anxiety. Improving lung control might be good for your physical and emotional health.
4) Teddy Bear Breathing
Children may benefit from this method of breathing. However, both teens and adults can also perform this exercise. Here's how you can do it:
- Place a teddy bear on your belly button while lying on your back with a hand on your chest.
- Keep your eyes closed and unwind your entire body.
- Slowly inhale through your nose. The teddy bear should stand up, but not your chest.
- Hold your breath after taking a long, deep breath, count to three, before you slowly exhale.
- Continue until you feel at ease.
5) Pursed Lips Breathing
If you are having trouble breathing, this exercise can calm you down, help you get more oxygen into your lungs, and give you more control over your breath.
The American Lung Association offers the following instructions for pursed lip breathing:
- Inhale deeply through your nose.
- Put your lips together and exhale as if you were trying to extinguish a flame.
- Make an effort to exhale more slowly than you inhale.
- Repeat five to ten times, pausing if you get dizzy.
6) Progressive Muscle Relaxation
The progressive muscle relaxation technique is most effective when you're seated, whether it's at home, at work, or even in a moving vehicle. You can get rid of extra stress from head to toe by purposefully tensing and then relaxing each muscle group one at a time.
- Close your eyes and concentrate for two to three seconds on tensing and relaxing each muscle group.
- Beginning with your toes and feet, work your way up to your knees, thighs, glutes, chest, arms, hands, neck, jaw, and eyeballs.
- Continue taking long, deep breaths at all times.
Everyone occasionally feels anxious. It is an organic component of the body's response to danger. One of the most effective ways to manage anxiety is through breathing exercises. People can perform the majority of these exercises easily and anywhere.
You should talk to a doctor about psychotherapy or medication if you find that you have frequent or excessive anxiety that interferes with your daily life.
Janvi Kapur is a counselor with a Master's degree in applied psychology with a specialization in clinical psychology.
What do you think of this story? Tell us in the comments section below.