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My Experience Using Breathing Exercises for Anxiety

The article has been medically reviewed by Doctor Ramlah Tariq FCPS on/gyn, RMP, MBBS, BSc.

2020 was a year none of us saw coming and many of the uncertainties have crept on into 2021. During these uncertain times where life is far from how we knew it, brunches and hugs seem like a lifetime ago, anxiety really can take hold.

Team up health issues and a global pandemic anxiety certainly did take hold for me.

I was shocked to learn that in the UK, general anxiety disorder (GAD) is estimated to affect around 5% of the UK population. This number is likely higher, as many people go without treatment. While it is a mental health condition affecting both genders, it is more common in women aged between 35-59. Read more about it here, on the NHS official website.

Google searches for anxiety have also risen in the past year, with more people struggling with anxiety as a knock on effect of the pandemic. 

In previous blogs, we have covered natural remedies for anxiety that we love and yoga for anxiety which helps us relax. Today, we are going to share the breathing exercises for anxiety that helped me find a sense of calm and relief. 

Breathing exercises for anxiety relief – can it actually work?

Our breath is a powerful tool. When I am anxious I will notice that my breath goes short and shallow.  Sometimes I even notice that my chest gets a little tight. 

This type of short and shallow breathing can cause an imbalance in oxygen and carbon dioxide levels in the blood, causing me to become lightheaded.

I noticed that I spend a surprising amount of my day in this state of short and shallow breath. When I am working at a desk, driving or curled up on the sofa there isn’t much space for the breath – how are you breathing now?

I found that breathing exercises can help me to relax during periods of anxiety or panic. Deep breathing and breathing for anxiety techniques can actually be a powerful tool. 

How do I breathe for anxiety relief? 

There are a surprising number of ways to breathe. I went to a 2 hour breathing workshop with a local yoga instructor and it was an intense and insightful lesson into breath work.

I learned how the breath can help you to find a sense of calm (I even had a nap) as well as give you energy and confidence when you are feeling a little flat. 

Here’s one I do when I am feeling flat. 

Take a big breath in. As you exhale let out a big throaty “HAA”. Love this one. 

Breathing exercises for anxiety relief techniques 

4-7-8

  1. Inhale through your nose for a count of 4
  2. Hold your breath and mentally count to 7
  3. Exhale through your mouth for a count of 8 

When I do this 3 times and I should begin to feel more relaxed.

For more information and detail click here to have a read.

Count and elongate your breaths 

When I am in a state of anxiety or panic I know I need to try to elongate the breath. Here’s what I do.

Start slowly, breath in for 1 counts and out for 2 counts. Then try 2 in, 3 out, then 3 out for 4 and so on. Try to elongate the breath over a few minutes.

7/11 breath

The 7/11 breath is where I inhale for a count of 7, and exhale for a count of 11. Now, for some, this might be too much. I started with in for 4, out for 8 and gradually increased. See how it feels for you. Click here to read about the benefits of 7-11 breathing

How do I feel after deep breathing?

When I take time to perform some deep breathing, I increase the supply of oxygen to the brain and fire up my parasympathetic nervous system. Both of this will increase a sense of calm. For more information, click here to read more.

Connecting to the breath can also help me to feel grounded and take my mind away from anxieties and things that have been worrying me. This can be very useful when I am trying to go to sleep with a racing mind. 

Breathing exercises for anxiety – A summary 

I have found that breathing for anxiety can be a powerful tool to have in my pocket. When I feel a heart fluttering bout of nerves, panic, dread or stress, I calm myself with a few simple breathing exercises. 

I also find them particularly useful when my brain feels like I have 82 tabs open and music playing in one of them and I can’t for the life of me shut it off. 

I do these exercises anywhere. At the office, in the car, while I wait for a big meeting, when I am trying to sleep but can’t find a sense of calm.

Take a moment. Take a breath. 

Lots of Love, 

Our Remedy xxx

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