If you’re stressed and experiencing symptoms of panic, your body starts to tense and breathing can be difficult. A great way to overcome this is by using breathing exercises for stress. Being able to use breathing techniques for stress can be a great way to relief yourself of some of the more severe symptoms of stress. Below I go over breathing exercises for stress and how to implement them effectively.
Recognise Stress and Sit Down
The most important strategy you can have is first of all recognising the symptoms. If you’re finding it hard to take a deep breath and you’re in a stressful situation, its important to recognise what is going on and then you can take steps to deal with it. It can help to sit down on a chair, and lean your arms on a table, this will help oxygen rich blood to circulate round your body more efficiently than if you are standing and will take the stress off your heart having to work so hard to pump oxygen to your brain and vital organs.
Concentrate On Your Breathing
No matter how panicked you are, you really are not going to help yourself or anyone else if you are experiencing a panic attack or hyperventilation. So first of all concentrate on yourself. Make yourself consciously think about each breath that you take and force yourself to follow the breath in through your nose and out through your mouth. Using a paper bag, or indeed your hands cupped over your face can help you to regulate your breathing and force air into your lungs in a regular fashion. This will help to slow down your heart rate and allow you to regain control of your breathing.
Visualising Your Breathing
Placing one hand on your chest and another on your abdomen, then exhale through your nose for 3 seconds making a whooshing sound to force the air out of your lungs. This slow breathing will help your body to physiologically slow down your heart rate and help you control each breath that you take. If you’re experiencing palpitations and feeling dizzy, slow breathing can relieve your anxiety and return your breathing to normal. Try this technique, breathe in slowly, hold your breath for a count of 10 seconds and then as you breathe out visualise your breath leaving your body ensuring you use your diaphragm to fully exhale any stale air.
Breathe in slowly through your nose resting left hand on your chest and your right hand just under your rib cage. Your hand on your ribcage should stay still while your hand on your rib cage should rise slowly. As you exhale you should visualise each breath and watch as your hand on your abdomen falls again. After a minute of slow breathing, breathing in and out for 10 seconds, keep this going for 5 minutes and by the end you will find that your symptoms will be relieved. To get full benefit of slow breathing it is best to perform these exercises while lying down. Try these exercises every day and then once you have mastered them you will be able to perform them when you most need to.
Hyperventilation can occur at times of great stress and can be a catch 22 problem where the more stressed you get, the more stressed you will expect to get and you may begin to panic as a result. Sometimes this can feel that you are not getting enough oxygen into your blood system, however the reality is that you are getting too much and you need to rebalance your c02 levels. Rebreathing co2 into your lungs will help you do this. To do this you can use a small paper bag which you can breathe into rebreathing your own co2. If you use this paper bag to breath into you will find that your breathing will become slower and more rhythmic.
Deep Breathing For Relaxation
Deep breathing is less helpful for a panic attack, however it is good for general relaxation and particularly if stress is building. Controlled calm breathing allows you to return yourself to a more relaxed state where you will be better able to cope. One of the simplest deep breathing exercises you can do is to sit in a chair with arm rests and your back straight hands resting on the arms. Breathe in slowly through your nose for 5 – 6 seconds. Then hold for 3 seconds and slowly breathe out through your mouth. Then breathe in for 7-8 seconds and hold for 5 seconds breathing out through your mouth. Repeat this exercise for 10 times.
Deep Breathing For Sleep
If you are finding it difficult to sleep and watching the clock every night, there are some great breathing exercises that you can do to help you drift off to the land of nod. Take a slow deep breath in and holding it for 3 second then releasing it slowly to a count of 6 using a whoosh sound. Then take a slow deep breath again and hold for 5 seconds and breath out once more to a count of 8. Increase this by a couple of seconds each time whilst tensing your muscles and then as you breath out slowly visualise each muscle group relaxing gradually. This will gradually cause you to become sleepy and fall into a deep state of relaxation and subsequently drift off to sleep.