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Friday, 26 May 2017
Breathing Exercises Which Help to Control Anxiety and Reduce Stress
Image Credit: gstatic.com
There are many different breathing techniques out
there. As mentioned above, simply inhaling and exhaling to the count of six can
go a long way toward regulating your breathing and lowering your blood
pressure. Be sure to breathe through your nose, not your mouth. Another
variation is the "HA" breath, which involves inhaling slowly through
your nose, then exhaling quickly while saying "ha" out loud.
The following is a Buteyko breathing exercise that
can help reduce stress, control anxiety and quell panic attacks. This sequence
helps retain and gently accumulate carbon dioxide, leading to calmer breathing
and reduced anxiety. In other words, the urge to breathe will decline as you
enter a more relaxed state:
Take a small breath into your nose, followed by a
small breath out.
Then hold your nose for five seconds in order to
hold your breath, and then release your nose to resume breathing.
Breathe normally for 10 seconds.
Repeat the sequence.
In addition to being slow and deep, ideally you want
your breathing to also be very calm and light — so light that the hairs in your
nose barely move. This type of breathing, which is part of the Buteyko school
of thought, helps you to enter and remain in a calm, meditative state while
lowering your blood pressure. The following three steps will help your breath
become lighter with practice.
Place one hand on your upper chest and the other on
your belly. Your belly should move slightly in and out with each breath, and
your midsection should get wider, while your chest should remain unmoving.
Close your mouth and breathe in and out through your
nose. Focus your attention on the cold air coming into your nose and the
slightly warmer air leaving it on the out breath.
Slowly decrease the volume of each breath, to the
point it feels like you're almost not breathing at all (you'll notice your
breath getting very quiet at this point). The crucial thing here is to develop
a slight air hunger. This simply means there's a slight accumulation of carbon
dioxide in your blood, which signals your brain to breathe.
You may feel a slight air shortage at first, but
this should be tolerable. If it becomes uncomfortable, take a 15-second break and
then continue. After three or four minutes of air hunger, you'll start
experiencing the beneficial effects of CO2 accumulation, such as an increase in
body temperature and an increase in saliva. The former is a sign of improved
blood circulation; the latter a sign that your parasympathetic nervous system
has been activated, which is important for stress reduction.