Breathing Exercises are very simple ways to calm your mind and relieve the anxiety from the daily stress. This is in fact a drug-free way of activating your parasympathetic nervous system to help you release tension and stay calm. The parasympathetic nervous system places us into a "rest-and-digest" mode when we are stressed and this enables us to relax and relieve stress.
When you notice the signs of stress and anxiety such as a racing heart, shortness of breath or a lump in the throat, you can perform the following breathing exercises to relax your muscles and calm yourself.
1. Try some small breath holds. You can do this by taking a small breath in through your nose followed by a small breath out. Count slowly up to five during the out-breath. Do ten relaxed breaths into your diaphragm after this. Diaphragm is the sheet of internal muscle that extends across the bottom of your rib cage. Repeat for about five minutes to activate the parasympathetic nervous system.
2. Activate your diaphragm by sitting or lying down with knees bent up. Ensure that you are not tensing up or using your upper chest to suck air in. Lift the shoulders up and let them collapse down to a relaxed position. Do this three times. Afterwards, place one hand on your chest and the other hand on the abdomen; then practice quiet diaphragmatic breathing.
To effectively perform these breathing exercises, three things must be carried out very well.
- First is using the nose when breathing in. It is very important that we all breathe through the nose every time. You may also breathe in through the nose and exhale through the mouth.
- The second point is relaxing. When your muscles are tense, it will be difficult for you to activate your diaphragm or calm your mind to relax your breathing.
- The third point is doing breath holds. Since breathing is increased when we are anxious, we exhale carbon dioxide. We need to maintain carbon dioxide because it helps regulate our bodily functions. You can retain carbon dioxide by doing small breath holds. This way, you can keep yourself from hyperventilating and you can calm your muscles and mind.
Indeed, breathing exercises are complicated or difficult to learn. In addition, these are also effective in bringing balance to the mind and body. Simple breathing exercises can be useful in managing anxiety attacks.