Breath Hack: Learn this simple technique to help fight anxiety
Breath is vital. Your breath can be a powerful determinant of your physical and emotional state of being. In my practice I often emphasize breathwork during treatment. I find that with my clients, it can help them achieve a greater sense of awareness of what is happening in their own bodies and capacity for self healing. By shifting your breathing rate and pattern, you can stimulate the body’s parasympathetic response. Your parasympathetic nervous system will decrease stress and relax your body. It is the body’s equally powerful and opposite system to shift us from flight or fight mode to the relaxation response. Learn this simple breath hack to fight anxiety.
Types of Breathing Patterns
Breath is a necessity of life and most of the time it’s a completely unconscious and automatic pattern. There are two main types of breathing patterns:
When we feel anxious, we tend to engage in rapid shallow breathing from our upper lungs. If you are feeling anxious, you may not even notice that you are breathing this way. The increase in your heart rate during periods of anxiety causes your body to want to increase its breathing rate. If you have anxiety, are overtired or stressed all you need is a pair of lungs, your breath and a few minutes.
Complete Breathing Technique to help fight Anxiety
This simple breath hack can help fight anxiety. The next time you’re feeling anxious try this simple relaxation technique. The first time you do this – be sure to take your time. You may find it challenging at first and may even feel a slight stretch as you do it.
Focus for 5 full breaths on each area, with a gentle “HAAA” on the exhale, as you completely empty the lungs of air. It can be helpful to place a hand on the area you’re focusing on*
Take a slow breath and breathe into each area:
- Low back 5x
- Mid back 5x
- Upper back 5x
- Then into your ribs 5x
- Then into your upper chest 5x (expanding out, not up)
- Then completely fill the lungs in all 6 directions 5x and fully exhale.
- Once complete, return to your normal breathing pattern.
Repeat this technique as necessary. You can experiment, and do this cycle more than once, noticing the difference between the first and second round. Incorporate body scans to see if you notice the difference before and after. This can be a great practice at the end of the day before bed or even during stressful times in the day.
Practice at least once daily. Ideally for 15 minutes (set a timer) Go longer if you have the space.
*This is called vagus breathing. When you breathe deeply into your body and exhale with a “HAAA” sound, it focuses and contracts the diaphragm which hugs the Vegas nerve which then tells your nervous system it is safe and can relax, causing your autonomic nervous system to slow down.