Our breathing is an important factor in how we handle and calm anxiety.
Conscious breathing techniques can be used to calm anxiety. Consider for a moment what happens when we are startled or stressed. Our breath moves from the easy long deeper breathing of a relaxed state to a shortened breath. In fact, we often hold our breath altogether when we are surprised or fearful. We can become what is called “breathless”. It’s not as if we are literally without breath, but our breathing gets so shallow and irregular, that it feels as if we have lost our breath.
Studies have shown that anxiety and shortness of breath are related. (1) You may experience a feeling of not being able to breathe easily. You may also feel tightness in the chest. Anxiety can also result in hyperventilation or rapid breathing. You may also feel dizzy or disoriented from such irregular breathing. When we continue with these patterns, we will feel more and more uneasy and anxious. We end up feeding the anxiety when we allow breathlessness to dominate our breathing.
Listed below are a few breathing techniques for you to choose from when you want to calm yourself or ease anxiety. Each one is effective. Choose the one that suits best you in the moment.
Here Are 3 Breathing Techniques to Calm Anxiety:
Even Inhale – Exhale Breathing:
Bring your attention to your breath. Exhale fully. Now, take in a slow, full inhale, filling your lungs all the way to the bottom and allowing your abdomen to expand. Pause for a moment. Exhale a nice, slow breath, pushing your abdominal muscles in against your spine to help with fully emptying your lungs. In this way, you can receive a full inhale on the next round. Continue this slow conscious breathing, making sure your inhales and exhales are even. If one is longer than the other, then you can end up get dizzy or spike a headache. By exhaling fully, you expel all the waste carbon dioxide out of your lungs and are ready to refresh them with new oxygenated life-giving air. Repeat this deep, even inhale-exhale breathing pattern for 3 to 11 minutes.
Left Nostril Breathing:
When we breathe through only the left nostril, we stimulate the calming center in the brain. This method of conscious breathing helps to relieve the nervousness of anxiety. Place one finger over your right nostril and breathe nice slow, long deep, even inhales and exhales through your left nostril only. Continue for 3 to 11 minutes.
The Eight-Stroke Breath:
This is a powerful breathing technique to calm anxiety and clear brain fog and confusion. (2) Make sure your inhales are even with your exhales.
To start, sit in a comfortable posture with a straight spine, tuck your chin in just a bit so that the back of your neck is flat, lift your heart and bring your shoulders back. You can sit on the floor cross-legged in easy pose or sit in a chair as long as your back is straight, and your feet are on the ground.
- Close your eyes. Concentrate on your breathing.
- Inhale through both nostrils in eight equal portions or strokes. Exhale through the nose in one deep, powerful breath.
- Continue for 11 minutes.
To end, inhale deeply and hold the breath for 5-10 seconds. Exhale fully. Inhale deeply and hold the breath for 15-20 seconds, rolling your shoulders. Exhale powerfully through your nose. Inhale deeply and hold the breath for 15-20 seconds, rolling your shoulders quickly. Exhale fully. Relax the breath and the pose.
We have at our disposal this beautiful tool of the conscious breath to help guide us through our day with more ease and peace. Any of these breathing techniques, when done consciously and for the suggested times, will help send the signal to the nervous system that it is time to relax and calm down.
Choose the one that feels the most comfortable for you when you need help to ease and calm anxiety.
- (1) https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0954611114003187
- (2) https://kundaliniresearchinstitute.org/
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Elizabeth is a Health Facilitator, Empowerment Coach, EFT/Tapping and Ancestral Clearing Practitioner, and Kundalini Yoga Teacher, helping people to step into the power of their own healing. She has turned her attention as a patient advocate and health facilitator in service to the alarmingly high population of people who suffer from stress, chronic pain, and the quest for a life free from suffering.