Breathing for Anxiety Relief

If you are feeling anxious and tense, try some deep breathing techniques first, before you reach for the booze

Learn to Properly Exhale

Inhaling deeply may not always calm you down.  Taking deep breath in is actually linked to the sympathetic nervous system, which controls the 'fight-or-flight' response.  But exhaling is linked to the parasympathetic nervous system, which influences our body's ability to relax and calm down.

Taking too many deep breaths too quickly can actually cause you to hyperventilate.  Hyperventilation decreases the amount of oxygen-rich blood that flows to your brain.

When we feel anxious or under stress, it's easier to breathe too much and end up hyperventilating - even if we're trying to do the opposite.

Breathing Techniques to Quiet our Thoughts

One-Minute Stress Strategies

 

These one-minute stress strategies are simple, and they can make a real difference in how you handle stress. We encourage you to try them!

Tension release:

  • Tense your muscles, one area at a time, and enjoy the relaxation upon release.

  • Take a deep breath and hold it as you curl your toes for about 5 seconds, then let your breath go all at once. Don't ease off — let go completely!

  • Next clench your calves, thighs, buttocks, arms, shoulders, jaws and finally squeeze your eyelids.

  • Feel the tension leave your body — aaah!

Deep breathing:

  • When tense, we often breathe from the upper chest. A full, deep breath helps relieve tension.

  • Take a deep breath, letting your abdomen expand fully.

  • Hold it for about 3 seconds.

  • Let your breath out all at once (with a sigh if you want).

  • As you exhale, relax your jaw and shoulders. Think calm…

Focused breathing:

When our minds are filled with stressful thoughts, our bodies become stressed. Focusing on body processes can help calm mental activity, which in turn can result in physical relaxation. This technique will help you take a break from stressful thoughts.

  • With your eyes closed, shift your attention to the tip of your nose.

  • As you breathe in, become aware of the air entering your nostrils.

  • As you breathe out, be aware of the sensations of air passing back out. Do this several times.

  • Repeat several times: breathe in… breathe out… breathe in… breathe out…

Ideal relaxation

  • Picture a place (real or imagined) where you can be totally relaxed.

  • With your eyes closed, take a moment to visualize an ideal place to relax. Make it any place attractive to you.

  • Using all senses, feel yourself in comfortable clothes, hear pleasant sounds, see beautiful colors.

  • Visit this spot whenever you need to relax. Take a mini-vacation!

4-7-8 breathing:

Slow it down to soothe mind and body --

  1. Exhale with sound through your mouth to the count of eight

  2. Inhale quietly through your nose to the count of four

  3. Hold your breath to the count of seven

  4. Repeat for four breath cycles, and ideally twice a day