Anxiety Healing Mindfulness Tips

10 Powerful Breathing Techniques For Anxiety: Calming Your Nerves in Seconds

November 1, 2017
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Breathing techniques for anxiety are, inarguably, the most powerful ways to come out of a panic attack.  There are three types of breathing that anxiety suffers do as soon as your start feeling anxious:

  1. Shallow Breathing: Breathing in too quickly
  2. Monitored Breathing: Thinking about your breathing too much
  3. Over-breathing: Striving to breathe in more air because you don’t think you’re getting enough

Fortunately, all of these anxious breathing patterns can be fixed with the right breathing techniques.

 

Why Breathing Techniques for Anxiety Are So Helpful?

Breathing techniques are anxiety are helpful in various ways. It’s all about science and the way the body responds to oxygen and panic. Here’s a crash course:

When you have an anxiety attack, your breathing rate changes. Your breath gets shorter, it feels like you can’t take a deep breath and you begin to breath shallowly and rapidly, which can result in hyperventilation. Unfortunately, this can cause even more uncomfortable symptoms of anxiety to occur. So, learning how to control your breathing in the midst of an attack will help calm your nervous system and ultimately, will put an end to the panic.

 

10 Powerful Breathing Techniques for Anxiety

There are several anxiety breathing techniques available to you and you don’t need a prescription or pill body to reap the benefits. Here are some of my favourites:

1. Abdominal Breathing

Abdominal breathing, also known as natural breathing, is one of the easiest breathing techniques for anxiety. It can be done inconspicuously, so no one will even know you’re having an attack.

  1. Place one hand on your chest
  2. Place the other hand on your stomach
  3. Slowly take a deep breath in through the nose and feel the hand on your stomach move as you inflate your diaphragm
  4. Slowly release your breath
  5. Repeat

2. Deep Diaphragmatic Breathing

Deep diaphragmatic breathing is one of my personal favourite breathing techniques for anxiety, especially when I’m feeling panicky. Doing this exercise will slow your heart rate (adios, palpitations!) while also controlling hyperventilation.

  1. Slowly take a long deep breath in through your nose
  2. Focus on filling your lungs from the bottom up
  3. Hold your breath for a count of three
  4. Purse your lips and slowly exhale, relaxing the muscles in your face, jaw, shoulders, stomach, hands, etc.
  5. Repeat

3. Yoga Breathing Technique

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If you’re a regular at your local yoga classes,  you already know this anxiety breathing technique. It’s one used to calm your mind, body and spirit and can work wonders when you’re feeling anxious.

  1. Take a slow, deep breath in
  2. Pause
  3. Slowly let your breath out
  4. Pause
  5. Repeat

4. Calming Counts

As you’re about to see, counting your breaths is a great way to calm down during a panic attack. This one takes a bit longer to do, as it’s for a count of ten but it helps relax your mind and body from your head to your toes.

  1. Take a long, deep breath in
  2. Slowly exhale, imagining all your anxious thoughts blowing out with your breath
  3. Close your eyes and take ten natural, easy breaths count down from ten with each
    • Breath in, breath out – 10
    • Breath in, breath out – 9
  4. Notice any tension in your body and relax them
  5. Open your eyes and repeat

5. The 4-7-8 Count

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The 4-7-8 count is also called the relaxing breath technique, and it’s one of the easiest to do. Better yet, this exercise will quickly calm the nervous system, so much so that many feel like it puts a halt to your nerves altogether, as if your nervous system was shot with a tranquilizer.

  1. Press the tip of your tongue at the top back of your teeth
  2. Let out a deep exhale, along with a big sigh
  3. Close your mouth
  4. Slowly inhale through your nose for a count of four
  5. Hold for a count of seven
  6. Exhale deeply and slowly for a count of eight, letting out a sigh the whole time
  7. Repeat

6. Equal Breathing

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An anxiety breathing technique that’s certain to help calm your mind, body and spirit is called equal breathing. It’s commonly used to reduce stress, calm the nervous system and help you regain focus. It’s also one of the easiest breathing techniques to do.

  1. Take a slow inhale through your nose for a count of four
  2. Slowly exhale through your nose for a count of four

7. Four Count

Similar to the prior, you can take slow, deep breaths in and out with a count of. The only difference is you’re counting “one” for each inhale and “two” for each exhale and so on, instead of holding each for four counts.

  1. Breath in – count one
  2. Breath out – count two
  3. Breath in – count three
  4. Breath out – count forth
  5. Breath in – count three
  6. Breath out – count two
  7. Breath in – count one
  8. Breath out – count two
  9. Repeat

8. The Stimulating Breath

Again, another one of my favourite anxiety breathing techniques is the stimulating breath which is also called the bellows breath. It helps to increase alertness and let out tension, stress and anxiety, and can quickly calm you down during a panic attack.

  1. Quickly inhale and exhale through your nose, as short as possible, ensuring the duration is equal for both
    1. Try to get three inhales and exhales per second
  2. Continue for five seconds

9. Alternate Nostril Breathing

Alternate nostril breathing is exactly what it sounds like and it can help calm your mind, body and spirit in a jiffy.

  1. Plug your right nostril with your finger
  2. Take a deep breath through the left nostril
  3. Switch nostrils and plug your left one with your finger
  4. Slowly exhale
  5. Repeat

10. Skull Shining Breath

Another breathing technique that will feel like you’re literally blowing your anxiety out of your body is called skull shining breathing. It’s often used to shake off negative energy and anxiety, and is commonly used in the morning, prior to an exam, before a big meeting, etc.

  1. Take in a long, slow breath
  2. Quickly let out a powerful exhale from your diaphragm
  3. Repeat

 

How to Practice Anxiety Breathing Techniques?

Although breathing is one of the things we do automatically, without thinking twice about it, calming your nervous system with breathing techniques will take practice and effort. You have to memorize them and practice them. By doing so, they’ll come to you like second nature when you feel your anxiety increasing.

When I first started, I practiced at night while laying in bed – a great way to calm your mind and fall asleep. So, pick one technique you’d like to perfect and do that every single night. Once you have it down pat, learn a new one.

As you use these breathing techniques for anxiety, you’ll quickly be able to see which ones work best for you and which ones to focus on. Don’t worry about knowing all of them at this point. Just do the breathing techniques that work for you.

For fear of forgetting these breathing techniques

If you’re worried about forgetting your breathing techniques for anxiety in the midst of an attack, take a little piece of paper and write the steps on them. Keep this in your pocket or purse, and pull it out when needed.

You could also write the steps in a notepad on your phone and re-read when needed. However, if you’ll be in a situation where your phone can’t be accessed, definitely stick with the small piece of paper.

 

Before you know it, you’ll be able to control your anxiety attacks. Who knew breathing could actually help your anxiety instead of making it worse?

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