Anxiety: Breathing strategies to reduce the physical symptoms.
Updated: Sep 18, 2019
When we are anxious we breathe more shallowly and do not breathe out a full breath. The idea when learning how to breathe properly, is that it should be a natural and relaxed breath in and breath out. There are many suggestions about how to relax your breathing but our aim is to just understand how to lower anxiety through breathing using a full natural breath. We need to be able to do this anywhere - if we are sitting in a meeting or at a social event. We need to practice this if we hope to use it when we are feeling stressed. Breathing properly involves filling the lungs. If we fill the lungs our stomach should expand on the in breath.
§ Sit either comfortably but upright or lie down.§ Notice how you are breathing.
§ Place your hands on your stomach.
§ Imagine your lungs behind your ribcage.
§ As you breathe in, your lungs fill and your stomach should expand. Imagine if you had a balloon in your stomach and as you breath in this inflates.
§ Your abdomen rises with the in breath and falls with the out breath.
§ Take a natural breath in and a natural breath out. An in breath is generally anything between 2 and 3 seconds. Count how long your natural breath in is – don’t force it. Whatever your natural breath in is, make your breath out the same amount.
§ Continue breathing in and out – making sure the out breath is about the same length as the in breath and each time we breath in, our abdomen raises and each time we breath out it falls.
§ If we have been ‘stressed’ breathing for many years – this will take some practice.
§ It is useful to set yourself a reminder on your phone to check your breathing each hour or every two hours. Just check you breathing and do a few relaxed breaths.