With the pressure of the current economic and general world context, anxiety is becoming more and more frequent. Even people who weren’t usually affected by it have now begun having episodes of unease and restlessness, mainly caused by health or financial problems, work-related stress and an unpredictable worldwide situation.
Among the most common symptoms of anxiety is shortness of breath or a modified breathing pattern, that can make you feel uncomfortable. However, breathing is actually one of the easiest ways in which you can return to a calm state and regain your composure.
Metro has spoken to psychotherapist Clare Gridley, who shared nine breathing techniques proven to help with anxiety and contribute to our general wellbeing, all of them based on scientific research. Gridley stated that “when you feel the signs of anxiety building up inside, there are tailored techniques you can adopt that will help to get your breathing back to normal”.
What are the nine breathing exercises for calming your anxiety?
- Nadi shodhana, or alternate nostril breathing, is an exercise usually practiced during yoga. This exercise makes use of only one nostril at a time and it implies inhaling on one nostril, exhaling on the other and then reversing the order. While doing the exercise, you should stay seated, maintaining a correct posture.
- Lion’s breath is also a breathing exercise practiced during yoga. It can be practiced while sitting in a chair or on a mat, with the hands placed on your knees or on the floor. This exercise implies inhaling through the nose and powerfully exhaling through the mouth, with your tongue sticking out.
- The 4-4-4 breathing, or box breathing, is practiced by inhaling, holding your breath and then exhaling, all on the count of four.
- The 4-7-8 breathing is a technique similar with previous one, but you inhale on the count of four, hold your breath on the count of 7 and exhale on the count of 8.
- Pursed-lip breathing implies exactly what its name says. You have to breathe in through the nose, and exhale through your purse lips.
- Belly breathing involves a very conscious technique, that engages the stomach, abdomen and diaphragm to take deep breaths.
- Resonance breathing is a type of slow, deep breathing, practiced lying down, with the eyes closed. The purpose of this exercise is to achieve a state of conscious breathing, while paying attention to your heart rhythm.
- Prolonged exhaling is a breathing exercise that implies exhaling for a longer time than the inhale.
- Teddy bear breathing is a variation of belly breathing, that actually adds a teddy bear to the equation and can be used especially for children.