Breathing Techniques for Anxiety Reduction

Breathing seems so basic, but when you are having anxiety, even breathing can become a chore. Luckily, the use of relaxational breathing techniques can also be a treatment for anxiety. Curetogether.com lists “Deep Breathing” as one of the most effective techniques for treating anxiety. In addition to helping your body oxygenate itself, breathing helps you release toxins, strengthen your immune system, improve cellular regeneration, and even relax.

Breathing Techniques

So how does one go about breathing for relaxation?  There are many different breathing techniques for relaxation, but Diaphragmatic Breathing is the most common. Diaphragmatic Breathing (know as Deep Breathing, or Belly Breathing) involves taking slowly paced, deep breaths. Typically, participants will lay down, placing one hand on their chest and another hand on their stomach. As you slowly breath in through your nose, you will notice the hand on your chest rising first, indicating that your upper chest is filled with air.  If you continue to breath in deeply, you will notice the hand on your stomach start to rise as your lungs expand into your stomach area.  You may feel your stomach muscles start to stretch as your stomach cavity becomes filled with air.  Only once your lungs are completely full of air for a few seconds should you slowly begin the process of exhaling through your mouth. Let your breath slowly exit through your pursed lips, being mindful of the sound your breath makes as you exhale. Repeating this inhale/exhale process 5-10 times should only take a minute or two and can leave you feeling much more relaxed and refreshed.

Alternative To Self-Guided Breathing

Feeling to stressed out to guide your own breathing? Are self-guided breathing techniques to complicated? Never fear.  Here are two excellent options to help guide your breathing:

  • NightWave.com, a sleep medicine company, sells a product designed to help. The NightWave Original is a small 9v battery operated device that helps your regulate your breathing to quite your mind and help you sleep.  The device projects a soothing ray of blue light on your ceiling. As you syncronize your breathing to the pulsation of the light, your body becomes more relaxed and you find yourself ready to fall fast asleep in no time. NightWave also sells a software pacjage called DayWave Relaxation which walks you through similar breathing exercises to help reduce stress while at work on a computer.
  • Thich Nhat Hanh, a zen meditation master and Nobel Peace Prize nominee offers a series of audio CDs where he discusses mindful living and reviews a number of mindful breathing techniques for relaxation. His voice is incredibly soothing and his words help guide listeners to a place of inner peace.