One of the first skills or techniques I teach clients who are struggling with anxiety or trauma symptoms is how to breathe to produce a calming effect on your nervous system. It is so important to calm your body so that you can have access to your thinking brain in order to respond to your situation in a more functional and productive way. So here are the two breathing techniques that I like to teach.
Diaphragmatic Breathing (Belly Breathing).
In this breathing exercise you focus on breathing from your diaphragm rather than shallow breathing from your chest. When you feel anxious or tense, you are most likely breathing in a shallow way from your chest. However, when relaxed, it is more natural to breath from your belly.
You can test this out by putting one hand on your chest and one resting on your stomach just above your belly button. Then, take a few deep breaths and notice which hand moves more. Your hand on your belly should move up when you breathe in as your diaphragm expands and down as you exhale. Your hand on your chest should stay relatively still.
Try this a few times now and see how it feels. Is it difficult or easy for you?
You can practice this 25-20 times a day, wherever you are, by just taking 4 or 5 deep belly breaths until it becomes second nature for you to breathe in this more calming way.
The second breathing exercise involves focusing your awareness on your breath without trying to change it. You can do this by following the rhythm of your breathing, noticing the temperature of the air as you breathe in, and being ware of when you inhale and exhale.
This type of mindful breathing can help you switch out of your anxious, worried thoughts and focus more on the present moment.
You can make it a prayer by being grateful for each breath you take and remember that it is God who gives you each breath you take. As you inhale you can imagine drawing in God’s Spirit and grace. With each exhale, you can focus on something you would like to let go of or surrender to God.
Start using these two simple but powerful breathing exercises today and I am confident that you will begin to experience reduced anxiety.
If you would like more assistance in overcoming your anxiety, I would be glad to help. Just give us a call at 561-472-0397 or shoot us an email today and we’ll get you started.