5 Breathing Exercises For Anxiety

If you suffer from anxiety and find that at times you find it hard to breathe, there are a range of breathing exercises that can assist with alleviating your symptoms. These exercises can help to take your mind off your anxiety and help you to relax. We believe that managing these symptoms is key to you being able to lead a healthy and active life.

Here are some breathing exercises that you can use for when you are feeling stressed or anxious.

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1. Lengthen your exhalations

When you feel anxious or stressed, it can be easy to breathe too fast and too shallow. The consequence of this is that you can end up hyperventilating. Making sure you take slow long breaths can also assist with getting the right amount of oxygen into your system. This will help to alleviate your symptoms. A strategy for maintaining an even length of exhalation is to time them. Try to inhale for a count of 4 and then exhale for a count of six. Try pausing for 1 to 2 seconds after the exhalation and inhalation. The pause will help to create stillness in your mind and body. This is also called rectangular breathing.

2. Abdominal breathing

Abdominal breathing is the practice of breathing deeply using the diaphragm. This can assist breathing by reducing the amount of work your body needs to do to get the air into the lungs. . To try this technique, try placing a hand over your heart and the other just under your ribcage, then breathe deeply and focus on which parts of your body move when you breathe. Ideally, you want your stomach to move when you breathe, rather than your chest, which should remain relatively still. Try this for 10 breaths and then rest for a few breaths and repeat.

3. Breath focus

By focusing on your breath, you can help to distract your mind from what was making you feel anxious and use that to reduce your anxiety in certain situations. In a quiet, comfortable spot, simply take long, deep breaths while trying to keep aware of your body and any tension you may be holding. Focus on the area around the nostrils feeling both the air going in and out. Through this process, you can then also release any tension that your body is holding.

4. Square Breathing

As an alternative to rectangular breathing, you can try square breathing as a technique. As the name might suggest, this is when you exhale for the same amount of time that you inhale. This can be done anywhere and studies have shown that this particular breathing technique can reduce the stress on your nervous system. Simply breathe in through your nose for a count of 4, then suspend the breath (rather than try holding which can increase tension) for a count of 4, then breathe out through the nose for a count of 4 and then suspend for another count of 4 before you repeat the process again. Do this about 10 times and then reassess how you are feeling. If the anxiety comes back try repeating and really focusing on counting and breathing. 

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5. Alternate nostril breathing

Alternate nostril breathing is a relatively self-explanatory breathing exercise. Breathing through the nose helps to strengthen the parasympathetic nervous system which helps us to relax. Breathing through the mouth is more associated with the Sympathetic Nervous system or our flight or fight response. We need to breathe through our mouth when we are strenuously exercising so when we are trying to reduce anxiety nose breathing is important. Stretch out or sit supported but comfortably. Use your right hand and rest your pointer finger and middle finger between your eyebrows. You will use your thumb and ring finger to close off each nostril. Use your thumb to close off the right nostril and inhale slowly through the left nostril. Then close the left nostril with your ring finger and suspend the breath for the same period of time. Then open your right nostril and release the breath slowly. Pause at the bottom of the exhale and then inhale through the right nostril. Again hold both nostrils closed and then open your left nostril and release the breath slowly through the left side. Pause again briefly at the bottom and repeat the cycle 5 times. Focus mindfully on what you are doing. This breathing technique can relax you and also energize you at the same time. It is a common practice in yoga and mindfulness meditations.

Trust Graceville Physio To Help You With Breathing Exercises For Anxiety.

Breathing exercises are simply one way to help alleviate the symptoms of anxiety, however, it’s important to consult a professional if ongoing symptoms persist. The team at Graceville Physio is trained in respiratory physiotherapy. We can work with you to create a treatment plan and schedule to help you get back to living your life to the full. 

Contact our team today to book an appointment with one of our expert physiotherapists – call today or book online.

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