Daily, we face challenges – from small matters like rushing a deadline to bigger concerns like dealing with a health issue. Worrying about these on the daily can lead one to feel stressed and anxious. The good news is, there are ways to help you calm down and bring peace. In this article, we discuss simple breathing exercises for stress and anxiety.
Stress and Anxiety: What’s the Difference?
We sometimes use these two words interchangeably, but the truth is they are different.
Stress is our response to an external threat, while anxiety is our reaction to stress. Typically, we can overcome stress when we eliminate its source. For example, a tight deadline may cause stress. When you have submitted your task, then your stress will go away. This means that normally, stress is fleeting.
Anxiety is different. Sometimes, the cause of stress has passed, but the anxiety stays on. This is because its source is internal. At times, you can not even point out what is causing it. In simpler terms, anxiety is a persistent worry that might prevent you from carrying out normal day-to-day activities.
Because stress and anxiety are common, we must find ways to reduce them. One way is to perform breathing exercises for stress and anxiety.
How Do Stress and Anxiety Affect Our Health?
A person who is stressed or anxious, or worse, feel them both at once, may experience the following:
- Physical Effects. Stress and anxiety may cause symptoms like sleep deprivation, stomach upset, and headaches. It may also result in muscle pain and chest tightness. They can also experience sweating, increased heart rate, hyperventilation, and trembling.
- Effects in Mood. A person with stress and anxiety may become irritable and easy to anger. Additionally, they may show signs of sadness, restlessness, and lack of motivation. With persistent worry, feelings of nervousness and helplessness might also occur.
- Behavioral Effects. Worse, stress and anxiety may cause a person to drink alcohol, smoke cigarettes, or overeat. They may also show signs of social withdrawal.
To prevent them from soaring to an unmanageable level, we can do some breathing exercises for stress and anxiety.
Breathing Exercises for Stress and Anxiety
Whenever you feel like the intensity of the situation and your worry are getting in your way, you can perform the following breathing exercises for stress and anxiety.
One of the most relaxing breathing exercises for stress and anxiety is belly breathing. Experts recommend this if you have no experience with breathing techniques yet.
- Choose a position. You can sit or lie down, as long as you are comfortable.
- Position your hands. Place one hand on your belly and another on your chest.
- Inhale. Take a big breath through your nose and feel your tummy expand. At this point, your chest should not move.
- Exhale. Through pursed lips, breathe out. Imagine that you are whistling. Use the hand on your belly to push the air out.
- Repeat. Do this 5 to 10 times. Remember to make sure that you are comfortable in each step.
The Three-Part Breathing Technique
One of the best breathing exercises for stress and anxiety is the three-part breathing technique. In yoga, this is also called Dirga Pranayama.
This type of deep breathing promotes oxygen in the blood, thereby nourishing the body. It is very helpful because when you are stressed, you tend to take short and shallow breaths. Aside from stress, three-part breathing can also help in panic attacks.
- It is called three-part breathing because it uses three parts. Your low belly, or the part below your navel, the low chest or the part below your rib cage, and the low throat or the area just above your sternum.
- Choose a position. The only conditions are to make sure that your spine is straight and your belly is not compressed. You can do this while sitting or lying down.
- Relax. Close your eyes and relax your body.
- Position your hands. Place one of your hands on your lower belly and the second on the right outer part of your ribs.
- Inhale. Inhale through your mouth and as you breathe in, raise your hands above your head.
- Take more air. As you inhale more, place your hand on your collarbone.
- Exhale completely. Imagine the air leaving your throat, your chest, and your belly.
- Repeat. Do this technique for 5 to 10 times.
The Calming Breathing Technique
Aside from the three-part breathing, this calming breathing technique is also one of the best breathing exercises for stress and anxiety. You can get its full benefits by adding it to your daily routine.
- Choose a position. Like the three-part breathing, you can also do this while sitting or lying down. If you do it while sitting, be sure to have the back of the chair as a support. At times, you can also do this while standing; just position your feet wide apart.
- Breathe in. Inhale through your nose and feel the air fill your belly. Do not force it. Do it comfortably. Count to 5 while you inhale. Again, if you do not find it comfortable, you do not have to reach number 5.
- Breathe out. Without holding the air, exhale through your mouth. If it helps, try to count up to number 5 again.
- Do this for 3 to 5 minutes.
Since we often experience stress and anxiety, it would help to practice relaxation techniques. One of them is performing breathing exercises for stress and anxiety. You can choose from belly breathing, three-part breathing, and the calming breathing technique.
While these breathing exercises for stress and anxiety are helpful, remember that there are other ways to relax. Taking breaks in between tasks, eating a balanced diet, and physical workouts will also help.
Learn more about Healthy Mind here.
Hello Health Group does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.