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Does Breathing Help Anxiety?

Would you like to soothe yourself with your breath? Shamash shares some breathing techniques to ease anxiety.

Hello, it's Shamash here. I've been asked the question, does breathing help anxiety? So first of all, if you're feeling overwhelmed with anxiety right now, sorry to hear that. You're certainly not alone. I've been there. And even as a full-time mindfulness teacher and trainer, I often find myself experiencing anxieties as I experience all the different challenges that I faced in my life.

Now this question about breathing, I love this question. I guess the question is can breathing exercises help with reducing the anxiety and, and if so, how? Now, there's a close relationship, I would say, between your breath and your stress response. In fact, if you breathe in a rapid and shallow way, you can actually induce a sense of stress and a feeling of anxiety. And on the flip side, when you engage in slow, deep breathing, your nervous system automatically begins to relax. It's an easy physical way to turn up the dial on relaxation and to reduce the dial on stress.

So the simple answer is yes, deep breathing can help to lower your feelings of anxiety. And when you combine the deep breathing together with mindful awareness, you may find it's even more soothing and beneficial. Now I want to give a little side note and I've mentioned before that with anxiety, one of the problems is when we try too hard to avoid the feeling. In a sense, it's almost like a fear of fear itself. And the more we try to use these approaches or techniques as a way to run away from anxiety or get rid of it, it can kind of tend to chase us actually.

So, think of this more as a way of being with the anxiety, embracing it and soothing yourself rather than from the spirit of trying to avoid. The essence of mindfulness is about relating to challenges in a different way, a way of accepting the feelings that we're having. So as you learn this technique, do it from that spirit of self-kindness and compassion and a sense of acceptance. So when you do the deep breathing technique that I'm talking about today, your belly actually expands as you breathe in and contracts as you breathe out. The reason for this is at the base of your lungs there's a muscle called the diaphragm.

And when you breathe deeply, that diaphragm goes down, it lowers and it pushes your belly out. That's why feeling your belly expanding on your in-breath and contracting on your out-breath is actually a sign of deep breathing. You're encouraging the lovely air to go deep into the base of your lungs, nourishing your body with oxygen. And it's actually a natural way to breathe. If you ever see a baby breathing, you'll notice that their belly expands and contracts as they breathe.

To do deep breathing, you need to begin by sitting or lying down in a comfortable posture. The other thing you need to do to prepare for deep breathing is to ensure your clothing is not too tight, especially around your waist. And this is because in deep breathing, you actually want your belly to expand out each time you breathe in. In our culture, we're kind of encouraged to have a flat belly. And so some people find themselves breathing in a shallow way, just, just breathing in their chest, which can be part of the cause of feeling a bit more anxiety, actually.

So I encourage you to welcome your belly expanding each time you breathe in, contracting as you breathe out. Seeing it as a positive sign of peace, of ease, of relaxation. If you want to do a little experiment just to see how powerful deep breathing can be, begin by thinking of something, that's actually causing you a bit of stress at the moment. And as you start to think about that cause of your stress, you may notice that your heart rate increases and your body tenses up. Then, try doing the deep breathing exercise.

Sit or lie down comfortably. Place one hand on your belly and one hand on your chest, if that feels good for you. And breathe in slowly and see if you can try and make your belly expand outwards, as you breathe in. And then breathe out slowly too. Ideally a hand on your belly will be moving as you breathe in and out.

And the hand on your chest will be relatively still. As you do this, you can actually try counting in your mind as you breathe in and out. I like to count to three as I breathe in and count to four as I breathe out. So you can try counting and see what numbers work for you. And if you're not into counting, you just listen to your breath or feel your breath.

That's fine. See if you can try a few minutes today, if you can. Practicing a few minutes a day can be a really pleasant way to relax and cultivate mindful awareness too. It's something that I certainly enjoy doing from time to time, even if it's just for a few breaths. So thanks so much for your mindful practice today.

Wish you all the best as you try this breathing practice to soothe your feelings of anxiety. I know working through anxiety certainly isn't easy, so do try to be extra gentle and kind with yourself as you go about your day.

Talk

4.7

Does Breathing Help Anxiety?

Would you like to soothe yourself with your breath? Shamash shares some breathing techniques to ease anxiety.

Duration

Your default time is based on your progress and is changed automatically as you practice.

Hello, it's Shamash here. I've been asked the question, does breathing help anxiety? So first of all, if you're feeling overwhelmed with anxiety right now, sorry to hear that. You're certainly not alone. I've been there. And even as a full-time mindfulness teacher and trainer, I often find myself experiencing anxieties as I experience all the different challenges that I faced in my life.

Now this question about breathing, I love this question. I guess the question is can breathing exercises help with reducing the anxiety and, and if so, how? Now, there's a close relationship, I would say, between your breath and your stress response. In fact, if you breathe in a rapid and shallow way, you can actually induce a sense of stress and a feeling of anxiety. And on the flip side, when you engage in slow, deep breathing, your nervous system automatically begins to relax. It's an easy physical way to turn up the dial on relaxation and to reduce the dial on stress.

So the simple answer is yes, deep breathing can help to lower your feelings of anxiety. And when you combine the deep breathing together with mindful awareness, you may find it's even more soothing and beneficial. Now I want to give a little side note and I've mentioned before that with anxiety, one of the problems is when we try too hard to avoid the feeling. In a sense, it's almost like a fear of fear itself. And the more we try to use these approaches or techniques as a way to run away from anxiety or get rid of it, it can kind of tend to chase us actually.

So, think of this more as a way of being with the anxiety, embracing it and soothing yourself rather than from the spirit of trying to avoid. The essence of mindfulness is about relating to challenges in a different way, a way of accepting the feelings that we're having. So as you learn this technique, do it from that spirit of self-kindness and compassion and a sense of acceptance. So when you do the deep breathing technique that I'm talking about today, your belly actually expands as you breathe in and contracts as you breathe out. The reason for this is at the base of your lungs there's a muscle called the diaphragm.

And when you breathe deeply, that diaphragm goes down, it lowers and it pushes your belly out. That's why feeling your belly expanding on your in-breath and contracting on your out-breath is actually a sign of deep breathing. You're encouraging the lovely air to go deep into the base of your lungs, nourishing your body with oxygen. And it's actually a natural way to breathe. If you ever see a baby breathing, you'll notice that their belly expands and contracts as they breathe.

To do deep breathing, you need to begin by sitting or lying down in a comfortable posture. The other thing you need to do to prepare for deep breathing is to ensure your clothing is not too tight, especially around your waist. And this is because in deep breathing, you actually want your belly to expand out each time you breathe in. In our culture, we're kind of encouraged to have a flat belly. And so some people find themselves breathing in a shallow way, just, just breathing in their chest, which can be part of the cause of feeling a bit more anxiety, actually.

So I encourage you to welcome your belly expanding each time you breathe in, contracting as you breathe out. Seeing it as a positive sign of peace, of ease, of relaxation. If you want to do a little experiment just to see how powerful deep breathing can be, begin by thinking of something, that's actually causing you a bit of stress at the moment. And as you start to think about that cause of your stress, you may notice that your heart rate increases and your body tenses up. Then, try doing the deep breathing exercise.

Sit or lie down comfortably. Place one hand on your belly and one hand on your chest, if that feels good for you. And breathe in slowly and see if you can try and make your belly expand outwards, as you breathe in. And then breathe out slowly too. Ideally a hand on your belly will be moving as you breathe in and out.

And the hand on your chest will be relatively still. As you do this, you can actually try counting in your mind as you breathe in and out. I like to count to three as I breathe in and count to four as I breathe out. So you can try counting and see what numbers work for you. And if you're not into counting, you just listen to your breath or feel your breath.

That's fine. See if you can try a few minutes today, if you can. Practicing a few minutes a day can be a really pleasant way to relax and cultivate mindful awareness too. It's something that I certainly enjoy doing from time to time, even if it's just for a few breaths. So thanks so much for your mindful practice today.

Wish you all the best as you try this breathing practice to soothe your feelings of anxiety. I know working through anxiety certainly isn't easy, so do try to be extra gentle and kind with yourself as you go about your day.

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