3 Science-Backed Breathing Exercises To Soothe Anxiety


| LAST UPDATE 10/20/2022

By Daria Appleby
Breathing Meditation Anxiety Relief
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It is extremely common to suffer from any form of stress and anxiety. No matter how strong someone is, emotion is real. However, when things become a little intense, we might be unsure how to handle our emotions - resulting in panic overload. Luckily, there are tips to avoid it.

According to The Recovery Village, at least 19.1% of adults worldwide suffered anxiety within 12 months. No matter age or gender, anxiety and fears are normal. Between the ages of 13 and 14, at least 31.4% suffer, 32.1% for the ages 15 and 16, and 32.3% for those between 17 and 18. As we grow older, we experience different things and, in return, trigger emotions we haven't addressed prior. Whatever these situations may be, they can affect sleeping, eating, and everyday activities. Weight from all the stress can drag us down to feel incapable, and one factor that blindly enhances our impotence is breathing. Dr. Patricia Gerdbarg, assistant clinical professor of psychiatry at New York Medical College and coauthor of The Healing Power of the Breath, has elaborated on ways to change this.

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Dr. Gerdbarg spoke with Today, "The brain listens to the lungs, so the way that we breathe has a tremendous effect on how the brain functions for many different mechanisms... the messages from the respiratory system are compelling and very rapid, and we think they have top priority." In conclusion, breathing is an "automatic body function" we have "voluntary control over." Here's how we can use it. Brain scans have shown slower breathing has clinically reduced anxiety and fear. Hence, the person can escape fight or flight mode. One technique, 'belly breathing,' helps to calm the "rest and digest." Lie in a comfortable position, inhale slowly for four seconds, let the abdomen rise, and exhale for four seconds. The second technique is 'coherent breathing,' encouraging the person to not focus on anything but breathing. This technique works great with a breath-pacing app that cues when to breathe in and out. Practicing a better breathing pace can be helpful for any future incident. Lastly, Mark Divine, a former U.S. Navy SEAL commander, recommends 'box breathing.' He says breathing "is the best tool to bring initial control over our mind." Start in a seated position, exhale all the air, inhale for five seconds, hold for five, and exhale for five. Repeating this five times gradually reduces the breathing pace to a calmer rate.

So, next time you are in a stressful situation, try any of the above. Of course, various methods other than breathing can also help. However, practicing breathing techniques is highly recommended. Remember to stay calm, and be in touch with your breathing to avoid becoming overwhelmed. You got this.

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