Anxiety Breathing Exercises 101: The Go-To Guide

Anxiety Breathing Exercises

If you suffer from feelings of anxiety, you know just how much it can negatively affect your life. While it might help to know that, according to some statistics, anxiety affects some 40 million American adults, this doesn’t make personally dealing with anxious feelings any easier.

The fear and unwarranted worry that can accompany high levels of stress can make someone feel like he or she is spiraling out of control. Anxiety breathing exercises, however, may help ease a panicked mind and bring balance back to the breath by alleviating stress.

3 Anxiety Breathing Exercises to Help Ease Stress

Stress doesn’t have to control your life. There are numerous anxiety breathing exercises that can help guide you through feelings of anxiety and stress in just a few moments.

By learning to control the breath, we can help calm ourselves quickly. When we consciously change the rate and patterns with which we breathe, we change the messages that are being sent to the brain.

Learning different anxiety breathing exercises will offer calm amidst the chaos and bring you back to a balanced state of mind. Try any of the following breathing exercises to help ease your mind and reduce stress.

1. Coherent Breathing

How It’s Done

Essentially, this breathing technique has you breathe at a rate of approximately 5 breaths per minute. It’s easily attained; all you need to do is inhale for a count of 5 and then exhale for a count of 5. Continue breathing this way for 2-3 minutes to help ease symptoms of stress and unease.

Why It Works

Coherent breathing is a great way to calm the nervous system and decrease stress. It works to bring balance to the sympathetic nervous system, which works to slow the heart rate and counteract the parasympathetic nervous system. The parasympathetic nervous system is where we experience the “fight or flight” symptoms common with feelings of anxiety.

When It’s Best

Coherent breathing can be used anywhere at any time. It works to quickly calm frazzled nerves no matter what the situation may be and can be especially useful when practiced before bed. This breath can help take your mind off the thoughts that run rampant through your mind and put you at ease when you begin to feel panicked.

2. Alternate Nostril Breathing

How It’s Done

Alternate nostril breathing (also known as Nadi Shodhana) is a breathing technique that has been used for centuries. Sitting in a comfortable position, place the right thumb over the right nostril, and breathe in deeply through the left nostril. At the end of your inhalation, close off the left nostril with your ring finger, and exhale through the right nostril. Inhale through the right nostril, close it off at the peak of inhalation, and exhale through the left. Continue with this pattern for 2-3 minutes.

Why It Works

This anxiety breathing technique not only calms the senses but brings balance to the right and left sides of the brain. It also helps to increase focus and concentration, both of which are often lost during bouts of stress.

When It’s Best

Alternate nostril breathing is best used when it’s time to focus. Known to energize the mind and bring balance to the senses, this breathing technique works best when you’re looking for a bit of a boost. It’s said to “clear the channels” and make one feel more alert and awake.

Try this anxiety breathing exercise before a meeting or exam, and you’ll find a focused calm permeating body and mind. It’s also a great breathing technique to do when stuck in traffic.

3. Deep Relaxation Breathing

How It’s Done

There are a variety of different ways you can use deep relaxation breathing techniques to reduce feelings of anxiety. The easiest, however, is to sit or lay down in a comfortable position and begin by taking a slow, deep breath through the nose for approximately 6 seconds. Hold the breath for a few seconds, and then slowly release the breath through the mouth for 7-8 seconds. Repeat this pattern for a count of 10 separate breaths.

Why It Works

This particular breathing exercise works in situations that cause feelings of extreme anxiety. Deep breathing promotes total relaxation and has an extremely calming effect on both body and mind.

When It’s Best

Deep relaxation breathing is best for those high-stress situations that leave you on the verge of a panic attack. When you find yourself in a particularly nerve-wracking circumstance, deep relaxation breathing can come in extremely handy. Stepping away to practice deep relaxation for just a few minutes can completely change your perception and calm anxiety quickly.

Using Images to Help You Breathe

Sometimes, a picture really is worth a thousand words. GIF images have become a popular way to help ease feelings of anxiety by breathing in sync with their movement. A gif that is designed to help with stress will calm you quickly and restore your peace of mind.

The gif below is one that’s been shared widely all over the internet. Breathing with its movement has helped countless people.

The next image might be simple and straight to the point, but that is exactly what some people need. Follow this image for 10 breaths, and you’ll gently ease anxious feelings.

The following gif is a bit more complex, but it is another excellent image to breathe in sync with when you’re feeling stessed. Simply let your breath rise and fall with the movement of the grid. Just one minute of breathing with this gif can help with feelings of anxiousness, worry and tension.

If you would like to, try breathing in sync with this

This last gif is helpful when you’re stressed and will bring your breath back to a regular rhythm. Try and inhale for one complete circle, and exhale for another full circle. Do this for 10 breaths, and you’ll notice your breathing to be balanced and your mind to be calm.

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There are many different ways to breathe that will help calm you quickly. Try any of the above breathing exercises the next time you’re feeling anxious, and you’re sure to breathe with ease.

Have you found a particular breathing exercise that works well for you? Tried any of the above with positive results? We’d love to hear about it in the comments below.