May 30

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How Deep Breathing can Help Anxiety


How Deep Breathing can Help Anxiety

You wouldn’t think that the way we breathe could change or affect so much in our bodies and minds. I didn’t even know that we could breathe in different ways.   However, when I began having problems with increasing asthma with chest colds, breathing suddenly became much more important to me. We take advantage of every breath we take because our body does the work so naturally to where we don’t have to think about it. Not until we are deprived of it do we immediately see how much we need it.

Anxiety or stress is a common issue in many of our daily lives. It can cause not only mental issues but also physical issues. Did you know that breathing in certain ways can make a world of difference in the amount of stress and anxiety we feel each day? Just sitting down without a plan in mind, while focusing on taking steady breaths in and out will make a world of difference. Don’t feel like you have to meditate. Don’t feel like you have to know all the fancy finger holds or hand and body positions. Just focus on your breathing and you will see the difference.  You can actually decrease your anxiety and slow down your breathing.

Controlled or deep breathing has many definitions and can be described in multiple ways. However, the following is a basic description of the practice.
Step 1: Inhale deeply through the nose counting to 4 or 5.
Step 2: Hold your breath for the same amount of counts as step 1.
Step 3: Slowly exhale for the same amount of counts, in a controlled manner. Do not let the air just release in a quick manner on its own. Control it. Give yourself 1-2 seconds before repeating.

There are many types of breathing practices but the deep breathing is the most common and widely used. Dr. Herbert Benson states that deep breathing, also known as “paced respiration” causes the parasympathetic nervous system to awaken which is the system that combats our daily stress and anxiety. He states that controlled breathing in any circumstance can trigger stress reduction as long as you are forcing yourself to focus on your breathing and not letting the subconscious take control.

The next time you feel very anxious or panicked, begin deep breathing and focusing on your breath.  You will notice your anxiety begin to decrease.

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