Today I received an email titled ‘The breathing techniques to try if you have anxiety‘.
Shallow, rapid breathing is one of the key physical symptoms of anxiety. This means deepening and controlling your breathing can be an effective means of calming yourself down.
If you deal with anxiety, you’re probably aware it’s as much a physical condition as a mental one. During a bout of anxiety, the body goes into ‘fight or flight mode’, responding to the perceived danger with a surge of adrenaline and cortisol. You may experience a faster heart rate, dizziness, hot flushes, sweating, dry mouth, headache and feeling sick.
“Breath is key to dealing with anxiety, both as a first-aid measure and as a daily practice to work towards reduction of the anxiety itself,” say Michelle Deane and Jo Gee, a holistic therapist and a CBT therapist respectively at the Luna Hive.
While there are a number of different breathwork techniques, the common theme is that they concentrate on drawing the breath deeper into the abdomen instead of the chest.
One exercise involves breathing in through the nose for four seconds, holding the breath for two seconds, and breathing out through the mouth for six seconds.
“Place one hand on the chest and another on the stomach. Breathe in deeply whilst pushing your stomach out,” says Nicky Lidbetter, CEO of Anxiety UK . “The hand on your stomach should move but the hand on your chest should not. As you breathe out, you should feel your stomach going flat. Your chest and shoulders do not move during deep breathing and instead stay still and relaxed. During this exercise, say in your mind: “In 2 3 4, hold 1 2, out 2 3 4 5 6” repeat.” Repeat 10 times.