It’s common knowledge that anxiety and pressure levels are increasing, especially among young man and women.
Rates of anxiety have been growing for some years now. Even educational institutions such as colleges state that anxiety rate has exceeded depression rate and is now the most common mental health problem of students.
Nevertheless, despite being named the most anxious generation, research shows that youths between 18 and 33 are barely prepared to beat their anxiety.
Young people nowadays are bothered by attacks of anxiety. Their condition comes out of the blue, and at the most disturbing moments. When it occurs, investigative mode kicks in, and the scramble to find an answer for their problem begins. Very often people who suffer from anxiety need to understand why they have this condition before they figure out how they could control it and beat it.
Sadly, finding the cause of your anxiety at the very moment when you are having an anxiety attack does not always work. It often makes things worse.
That’s because anxiety is not based on logic. For the significant part of the people who are affected by this condition, acute anxiety is not solely cognitive; it is not merely a problem that overwhelms their consciousness but rather a more severe condition to pay attention to.
Anxiety is physiological actually however it affects both the mind and body.
To beat anxiety, it’s better to turn to a professional therapist, but there are some techniques to relieve this condition which you can try on your own.
One quick and effective way to reduce the symptoms of anxiety is to try intentional breathing.
This easy but effective form of deep breathing defuses the pressure feedback loop and helps your brain and body to relax.
Breathing is sometimes overlooked as a reliable source of relaxation.
But there is a lot of potential healing energy in the way we breathe if we are careful and intentional when we do it. According to specialists such as Dr. Stephen Porges, who explains the polyvagal theory, breathing with an expiration which takes more time than an inspiration. This enables the body to overcome the stress and allows it to rest up. That’s because these sorts of breaths stimulate the parasympathetic nervous system, which provides our body with relaxation by sending signals that we are at peace.
Acute anxiety activates our sympathetic nervous system, which in response increases our heart rate, arterial blood pressure, and blood glucose levels.
That leads to increased/shallow breaths, racing heart, sweating, and the release of stress hormones. The body is responding this way because it reads these signals as if it is about to face a threat.
Anyone who is affected by anxiety knows very well what are the physical responses to this condition. So to relieve the symptoms of anxiety you might try practicing intentional breathing. This exercise aims to calm down the sympathetic nervous system and turn on the parasympathetic nervous system.
Here are the 7 steps showing how to practice Intentional Breathing:
1. Begin by getting a suitable position.
Sit upright in a chair or lie on your back. Observe your breath the way it is. See where the breath flows – lower belly, upper chest, front, back, or sides. Keep your usual pace of breathing and try not to judge how you breathe. Eventually, you could see that while observing your breath your respiration becomes slower.
2. Place hands on your belly and chest.
Put your right hand on the breastbone (sternum) in the middle of the chest. Place the left hand so that the thumb is under the navel. Breathe normally and see if you are breathing mainly into your right or into your left hand. Notice if you can hold the urge to change the way you breathe or to take deeper breaths. Breathe as normally as possible. How does it feel? Take at least 10 breaths.
3. Breathe into your chest.
Try breathing into your right hand that is holding in the center of your upper chest. Don’t force the breath. Observe how it feels to breathe into the area under your right hand. How do you feel? Can you slow down your inspiration or is that hard or difficult? Keep examining how you feel for about 20 breaths. After 10–20 breaths, take a few deep breaths and expire. Then continue breathing normally for approximately a minute.
4. Breathe into the lungs.
Try breathing into your left hand that is resting on your stomach. Don’t force the breath, see how it is to breathe into the area below your left hand. What do you notice? What do you feel? Can you slow down your inspiration or is that hard or difficult? Keep examining how you feel for about 20 breaths. Take 10–20 breaths, then take a few deep breaths in and out and continue breathing normally for approximately a minute.
5. Take half breaths into the chest. Then breathe into the lower lungs.
Take half of your breath into your right hand, rest for a few seconds, then expire the rest of the air into the area under your left hand. Have a rest. After that, expire the air from the bottom up. In the first place, release the air under the left hand, then let the expired air go from under your left hand to under your right hand. Let your breath go up and out through your mouth or nose. Take your next breath, first into the area under your right hand and next into the area under your left hand. Then expire the air from the bottom up. Are you able to slow down your inspiration or is that difficult? Keep examining how you feel for about 20 breaths. Take 10–20 breaths, then take a few deep breaths in and out. Continue breathing normally for about a minute.
6. Try taking full deep breaths.
Lastly, try breathing deeply and fully from top to bottom when inspiring air and bottom to top when expiring air. Don’t let any pauses. If possible, slow down the process of expiration so that it takes longer than the process of inspiration. You may count 1, 2, 3, and so on to check which one is longer. Take 10–20 breaths, then take a few deep breaths in and out and continue breathing normally for about a minute.
7. Take some time to rest and understand how you feel.
Was the exercise easy or tough? Did breathing slowly and fully is something you would usually do? How do you feel? Take a rest and take your time to see if this exercise made you feel better and more relaxed.
The benefits of this way of breathing might increase with daily exercise and repetition.
Try practicing intentional breathing as often as you can. And not only when you are having acute anxiety attacks.
Furthermore, don’t forget that breathing is just one of various approaches for controlling anxiety, and indeed, the most effective method is the one that satisfies you and your body in the best possible way.
If nothing helps, don’t wait too long to seek medical help. If you suffer from severe anxiety getting help from professional could be the best thing you can do for yourself and your loved ones.
Have you tried this breathing technique? If you like, share your experience in the comments.