anti anxiety breathing techniques

Breathe Away Anxiety: Top Breathing Techniques for Instant Calm

If you've experienced anxiety before, and most of us have, you know it is an elusive feeling to describe. Anxiety manifests subtly at first—a gentle but persistent whisper in the back of your mind, a gradual tightening in your chest, almost imperceptible. Your heart rhythm subtly quickens, as if trying to keep pace with a stream of restless thoughts. Your breaths become shallower, and a vague sense of unease settles over you like an unwelcome fog. It's as though your body is sounding an alarm, preparing for an unseen threat, triggering a cascade of physical sensations that can feel both bewildering and overwhelming. This is the onset of anxiety, a familiar yet disquieting visitor, heralding a shift from calm to a state of heightened alertness and apprehension.

Whenever you start feeling something resembling the feelings described above, it is crucial to have tools at your disposal to navigate these challenging emotions. That's why we're thrilled to introduce our latest resource in our wellness series – a printable guide featuring three effective breathing exercises designed to combat anxiety: Deep Breathing, 4-7-8 Breathing, and Mindful Breathing.
(Printable download link is at the end of this article).

anxiety relief exercises

Deep Breathing: Your Anchor in Stormy Seas

Best for: Nipping Anxiety in the Bud

When you feel the early signs of an anxiety attack – that quickening heartbeat, shortness of breath, or a sudden wave of panic – Deep Breathing can be your immediate go-to remedy. This technique helps activate your body's natural relaxation response, slowing down your heart rate and promoting a sense of calm. By focusing on slow, deep breaths, you're essentially sending a signal to your brain to lower stress levels, making it an ideal exercise for those moments when anxiety starts to creep in.

Deep breathing involves breathing in deeply and slowly through your nose, allowing your lungs to fill completely and your abdomen to rise, and then exhaling slowly and completely:

  • Sit comfortably with your back straight. Place one hand on your chest and the other on your stomach.
  • Breathe in slowly through your nose, feeling your stomach rise. Your chest should move only a little.
  • Exhale slowly through your mouth or nose, whichever feels more comfortable.
  • Repeat this deep breathing for several minutes.

4-7-8 Breathing: The Focus Enhancer

Best for: Enhancing Concentration and Focus

Feeling scattered or having trouble concentrating? The 4-7-8 Breathing technique is your ally. This simple yet powerful method is particularly effective when you're seeking to enhance focus and attention. By following the rhythmic pattern of inhaling for 4 seconds, holding your breath for 7, and exhaling for 8, you're not only improving your lung function but also helping your mind to center and refocus. It's a great exercise to do before a big meeting, an intense study session, or any time you need to sharpen your focus.

This technique involves breathing in for 4 seconds, holding the breath for 7 seconds, and exhaling for 8 seconds. This pattern helps reduce anxiety by focusing the mind on breathing:

  • Sit or lie in a comfortable position.
  • Inhale quietly through your nose for 4 seconds.
  • Hold your breath for a count of 7 seconds.
  • Exhale completely through your mouth, making a whoosh sound, for 8 seconds.
  • Repeat the cycle three more times for a total of four breaths.

Mindful Breathing: The Path to Present Moment Awareness

Best for: Daily Stress Relief and Mindfulness

In our everyday lives, stress can accumulate without us even noticing, leading to a constant state of tension. Mindful Breathing serves as a daily reset button, helping you to return to the present moment and release accumulated stress. It's about being aware of your breath and the sensations of breathing, without trying to control or change it. Practicing this exercise daily, especially during periods of lower stress, can significantly enhance your overall sense of well-being and can be a cornerstone of a mindfulness practice.

This is a form of meditation that focuses on breathing and helps you stay in the present moment.

  • Find a quiet place and sit in a comfortable position.
  • Close your eyes and take a few deep breaths.
  • Now, breathe naturally and pay attention to your breath without trying to change it.
  • Notice the sensation of air moving in and out of your body.
  • If your mind wanders, gently bring your focus back to your breath.

These breathing techniques are easy to practice anywhere and anytime. Whether you're at home, in the office, or on the go, these exercises are simple yet profoundly effective in managing anxiety and promoting a sense of peace and balance in your life.


Need more tools for managing stress and anxiety - meet the Tune-in Journal

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