Is the Way You Breathe Making You Anxious? - Deepstash

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Is the Way You Breathe Making You Anxious?

https://greatergood.berkeley.edu/article/item/is_the_way_you_breathe_making_you_anxious

greatergood.berkeley.edu

Is the Way You Breathe Making You Anxious?
Breathing sets off a cascade of physical changes in the body that promote either stress or relaxation.

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Breathing and anxiety

Breathing and anxiety

We have become pretty bad at the most basic act of living: breathing. We breathe through our mouths and into our chests, and we do it way too fast.

Besides the health problems this may cause, breathing the wrong way may have another big consequence: contributing to our anxiety and other mental health problems.

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How breathing can calm us

Instead of trying to think yourself out of feeling anxious, you can do something more specific: breathe slow or fast, in a particular rhythm, or through a nostril; this can work as an instant relief.

A regular breathing practice will help you feel calmer in daily situations, but studies suggest that focusing on your breathing in moments of acute stress could also be useful.

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Breathing: stress vs relaxation

The way we breathe can set off a cascade of physical changes in the body that promote either stress or relaxation.

Breathing impacts the sympathetic (“fight or flight”) and parasympathetic (“rest and digest”) branches of our nervous system, and certain techniques can promote more parasympathetic calm and relaxation. Some may also cause us to release hormones like prolactin and possibly oxytocin, the feel-good hormone of love and bonding.

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Fast breathing

  • Breathing fast can act as a trigger for people with anxiety causing symptoms that often accompany panic attacks, but you can use that to your advantage.
  • When you breathe fast and start to feel symptoms that you normally associate with anxiety, it may help you re-interpret those symptoms in a less threatening way.
  • They become less worrisome because they have a clear cause, the same way an elevated heart rate during exercise doesn’t bother us.
  • And if you can connect anxiety to faulty breathing habits, it means you can change the way you breathe and potentially see some improvement.

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How to breathe better

Many of the techniques that have been formally researched are derived from pranayama, yogic breathing that dates back to ancient India:

  • Ujayyi: Deep breathing with a narrowed throat, creating an ocean-like sound, often recommended while doing yoga asanas.
  • Bhastrika, or “bellows breath”: inhaling and exhaling forcefully.
  • Nadi Sodhan and Anulom Vilom: Types of alternate nostril breathing, where air is inhaled in one nostril and exhaled through the other, sometimes with breath holding.

Although these shouldn’t be seen as a replacement for therapy or a cure for severe anxiety, they can be a free, simple tool for both short-term relief and long-term benefit.

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SIMILAR ARTICLES & IDEAS:

Sama Vritti or “Equal Breathing”

How it’s done:  Inhale for a count of 4, then exhale for a count of 4, all through the nose, which adds a natural resistance to the breath. Once you manage it, you can go up to a c...

Abdominal Breathing Technique

How it’s done: With one hand on the chest and the other on the belly, take a deep breath in through the nose, ensuring the diaphragm inflates with enough air to create a stretch in the lungs. The goal: 6 to 10 deep, slow breaths per minute for 10 minutes each day to experience immediate reductions to heart rate and blood pressure.

When it works best: Before an exam, or any stressful event.

Nadi Shodhana or “Alternate Nostril Breathing”

How it’s done: Starting in a comfortable meditative pose, hold the right thumb over the right nostril and inhale deeply through the left nostril. At the peak of inhalation, close off the left nostril with the ring finger, then exhale through the right nostril. Continue the pattern, inhaling through the right nostril, closing it off with the right thumb and exhaling through the left nostril.

When it works best: Crunch time, or whenever it’s time to focus or energize.

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4-7-8 Breathing

Created by Dr. Andrew Weil this is breathing exercise to help you relax: 
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Breathing exercises

Breathing is at the core of ancient (and currently trendy) mindfulness practices, from yoga and tai chi to meditation.

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Deep, controlled breathing

It involves filling the lungs to the max and goes by various names like belly or diaphragmatic breathing.

It has been linked to improved cognitive performance, lower stress levels, and lower blood pressure.

Breathing and yoga

Belief in the benefits of controlled breathing goes back centuries.

Central to ancient Hindu philosophy was prana, described as vital “airs” or “energies” flowing through the body. Stemming from that belief, yoga was built on pranayama or breath retention.