Repeat after me: breathe in, breathe out. Easier said than done, right? But learning to control your breathing is invaluable at times of stress and anxiety or during a panic attack.
Research published in the Journal Frontiers in Psychology, "illustrates the potential for diaphragmatic breathing practice to improve cognitive performance and reduce negative subjective and physiological consequences of stress in healthy adults." So we run through some of the best breathing exercises to help you relax and why it's important in helping you keep it together.
Dealing With Anxiety-Related Hyperventilation
If you're a beginner, it might be easier to lie flat on your back with your knees bent and feet flat on the floor about eight inches apart - one hand on your chest, one hand on your abs.
- Counting to 10, hold your breath.
- Exhale out.
- Inhale slowly through your nose for three seconds. You'll notice your abdomen rise while your chest stays still.
- Exhale through your mouth for three seconds. Again, the hand on your abdomen should fall as you exhale.
- Continue this process for a minute before holding your breath for ten seconds again.
- Repeat the process for five minutes.
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Breathing During Exercise
If you're doing high intensity exercise, you'll want to breathe through your nose. "The body is exquisitely designed to breathe through the nose," says life and relaxation coach, Kate Hanley, speaking to AARP. "The hairs in your nose help purify the air and remove potential irritants and toxins, and the nasal passages and sinuses help with regulating the temperature of the air you inhale."
And previous research tends to agree: According to Yoga Health Benefits, using your nose allows for more efficient flow of oxygen. Because the entrance and exit for the nose is far smaller, your lungs are able to use more oxygen as not as much escapes your respiratory system.
Deep Breathing As A Preventative Measure
According to Harvard University, "Deep abdominal breathing encourages full oxygen exchange — that is, the beneficial trade of incoming oxygen for outgoing carbon dioxide. Not surprisingly, it can slow the heartbeat and lower or stabilise blood pressure." Focusing on your breathing patterns can help you concentrate and avoid "distracting thoughts and sensations."
Guidelines set out by Harvard recommend the following:
- Begin by taking a normal breath
- Move onto a deeper breath - breathe in through your nose slowly - you'll notice your chest and belly rise as your lungs fill up.
- After your abdomen expands fully, exhale slowly through either your mouth or nose.
- Then, sit with your eyes clothed, practicing deep breathing in tandem with positive and relaxing thoughts.
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