Anxiety and panic attacks can make your body react as if you're facing an immediate threat.
If you're living with an anxiety disorder, you may have experienced hyperventilating (over-breathing), which can be overwhelming and can have a significant physiological impact.
If you're hyperventilating, you may experience symptoms such as:
Since respiration is a physiological system that is under both involuntary (autonomic) and voluntary control, breathing exercises are a great therapy for managing your stress or anxiety.
You can use breathing exercises to focus on counteracting the nervous system arousal linked to chronic anxiety. Even if you don't have a diagnosed anxiety disorder, these exercises can be used as a relaxation technique when facing stressful situations.
Breathing exercises can teach you how to reduce shallow chest breathing caused by chronic hyperventilation. When you learn how to breathe properly with these specific techniques, you can also naturally induce a state of relaxation and a feeling of self-control.
With diaphragmatic breathing, you can learn how to manipulate breath movements that turn chest expansion into abdominal expansion when breathing. In turn, you experience a physiological immediate response of decreased oxygen consumption, heart rate and blood pressure.
While the technique can be taught by a professional, you can also learn it on your own using audio or video tutorials. Diaphragmatic breathing teaches you how to pace breathing into slower and deeper breaths that can help you feel more relaxed.
Practice this technique for a couple of minutes several times a day , or as needed, to enjoy short-term benefits.
This technique is best for relieving the symptoms of acute shortness of breath due to anxiety.
When practicing pursed-lip breathing, inhale through your mouth and exhale through pursed lips. Stretch out the exhalation phase as long as you can. (Related: Expert teaches the proper way of breathing to relieve stress and anxiety.)
Breath regulation is a crucial part of yoga. Various yoga breathing exercises are backed with scientific evidence, such as modifications in the breathing pace and breath retention.
Below are some exercises that you can try on your own:
Unlike medication, these simple breathing exercises are free and they don't cause negative side effects. Additionally, you can do them in any quiet room whenever you want to.
If you're new to these breathing exercises, start practicing them by paying attention to your breath daily. Observe each breath and don't try to alter it in any way. As you get used to observing your breathing, practice the exercises as detailed above.
The next time you're stressed and anxious, try a calming breathing exercise.