Is The Way You Breathe Stressing You Out?

Anxiety attacks can affect your breathing. But you probably know that already. What you may not know is that how you breathe can sometimes induce an anxiety attack. You may find it rather odd that something as basic as breathing could put you at risk of anxiety attacks. What’s more worrying, however, is that you may not notice when it occurs. So is the way you breathe making you anxious in the general sense? How can you detect breathing-induced anxiety? And what can you do to take charge of your breathing to stay calmer during stressful days?

How Breathing Impacts Your Mental State

Scientists and experts have discovered that improper breathing can be a leading cause of several health complications. This includes both physical and mental problems. Anxiety is one of the top problems that may arise from poor breathing habits.

According to psychologist Elissa Eppel, how you breathe initiates physical changes in your body. These changes can either result in relaxation or stress. For example, rapid, shallow breaths lead to anxiety by causing the nervous system to “up-regulate.” On the other hand, deeper and slower breathing will combat stress in your body.

Fast breathing is one of the most common triggers for people suffering from anxiety and has often been reported to cause panic attacks.

How to Improve Your Breathing

To reduce breathing-induced anxiety and promote greater relaxation, keep track of your breathing. You can improve your breathing by using various techniques. Some of them have been helpful for centuries on end.

One Minute, Six Breaths

This breathing practice is relatively simple. All you need to do is to take six conscious breaths within one minute. Take about ten seconds for each breath. Ensure that you breathe in, then out within these ten seconds. It’s advisable to do this thrice a day: after waking up, at midday, and finally before you go to bed. If you find it challenging to take six breaths, then start yourself off with eight before proceeding to six.

Box Breathing

If you”re looking for a calming bedtime practice, this may work for you. In this routine, you take a breath for four seconds, hold the air in for another four, before finally breathing out for four seconds. You will find this technique very calming, and it will go a long way in reducing your overall stress levels.

3–4–5 Breath

The 3-4-5 breath technique is yet another one that you will find very useful. It can help you in combating any overall stress and anxiety. All you do is breathe in for three seconds. Next, hold your breath for four seconds before finally breathing out for five seconds. This encourages your body to relax.

The key to this technique is ensuring your out-breath is longer than your in-breath.

Diaphragmatic Breathing

Studies have shown that diaphragmatic breathing is beneficial when it comes to reducing anxiety. The good thing about this technique is that it’s pretty simple. All you have to do is be intentional with following the instructions; you’ll be relaxed within no time. You can either start this sitting or lying down.

With one hand on your stomach and the other on your chest, take breaths through your nose. Your entire focus should be on your rising tummy. Next, purse your lips and breathe out through them as you shift your focus to your lowering stomach. Do this cycle a couple of times to ensure its effectiveness.

Take Charge of Your Breathing!

Although many people consider breathing to be entirely involuntary, that’s not the case. You can take control of your breathing. By regularly engaging in different techniques, you can eliminate any negative habits that may cause you stress. All it takes is a few guided breaths; it’s not that hard now, is it?!

-Martin Tremblay

Photo by Fabian Møller on Unsplash

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