When you're feeling anxious, it can be hard to find the right words. But there are other ways to give voice to your feelings, one of which is through breath. Just as taking a deep breath can calm you down in the moment, practicing breathing exercises (or pranayama) can be an effective way to reduce stress and anxiety over time. We have put together a list of four easy breathing techniques that anyone can try at home or wherever they are—they don't require any equipment or special clothing and take only seconds!
Abdominal or Diaphragmatic Breathing
Breathe in through your nose and out through your mouth.
Push your belly out as you breathe in, and pull it in as you breathe out.
Breathe in for a count of 4, hold for a count of 7, and breathe out for a count of 8.
This exercise is simple and can help you to calm down.
You can do this exercise anytime, anywhere.
Simply take a deep breath in through your nose for about 3 seconds or so, as if you are trying to fill up your lungs with air. Hold your breath for 7 seconds or so (counting steadily in your head). Then release the breath slowly through pursed lips for about 9 seconds (again counting steadily). Repeat this cycle 3 times.
Benefits: This technique will help you slow down your breathing rate and lower your heart rate, which helps reduce stress levels and anxiety.
Belly Breathing or 4-7-8 Breathing
Belly breathing or 4-7-8 breathing is a simple exercise that can help you relax and reduce your stress levels. Inhale through your nose for four seconds, hold for seven seconds and exhale through your mouth for eight seconds. Repeat this exercise 10 times in a row to experience its full effect. This will help slow down the breath rate while increasing oxygen levels in the bloodstream.
Alternatively, if belly breathing isn't possible due to physical limitations, try focusing on one point on the floor directly below where your toes are pointing at all times while doing deep breaths from the diaphragm (the muscle just under where most people's stomachs would be). This will still allow you to take deeper breaths than normal and release tension throughout the body by slowing down respiratory rates overall.
Relaxed breathing is slow and steady. Inhale for a count of four, hold for a count of seven, and exhale for a count of eight. Do this for five minutes when you feel stressed. Breathe through your nose and try to focus on the sound of your breath as it passes in and out of your body.
2-to-1 breathing is a breathing exercise that helps you slow down and relax. You breathe in for a count of 2, hold your breath for a count of 1, and then exhale for a count of 2. This is repeated for 10 minutes.
This breathing exercise can help you be mindful of your body's natural rhythms and signals when it comes to stress responses—and it may help reduce the symptoms associated with anxiety disorders like panic attacks or generalized anxiety disorder (GAD).
2-to-1 breathing has been shown to lower heart rate and blood pressure levels in people with high blood pressure as well as lower heart rate variability—which means that it can reduce stress on your cardiovascular system by lowering the amount of "ups" and "downs" there are over time. It's easy enough to do anywhere: just sit comfortably somewhere quiet where you won't be disturbed!
Use your breath to make yourself feel better.
Breathing exercises can help you calm down and focus, but they're also effective at reducing anxiety.
If you're feeling stressed out and your heart is racing, try these simple breathing exercises to relieve your body's tension:
Exhale through your mouth, making a sound that feels good to you. For example, try making the sound of a hooting owl or blowing out candles on a birthday cake. Do this for about 30 seconds at first and then transition into longer periods with less effort over time. Be sure not to hold your breath; breath freely throughout each exercise by inhaling deeply through the nose and exhaling fully through the mouth.
Place one hand over your chest while taking deep breaths in through the nose until you feel like there isn't enough oxygen in the room (or until someone interrupts). Then take another breath in slowly from behind closed eyelids until all is clear again before repeating as necessary
I hope these breathing exercises have helped you feel more relaxed and at ease. Remember that the most important thing is to find what works for you—that might mean trying out different exercises until you find the one that feels right for your body and mind. If you’re still struggling with anxiety, don’t hesitate to seek professional help from one of our therapists or doctor who can recommend additional strategies.