4 Scientifically Proven Breathing Techniques For Stress and Anxiety
First of all, 59% of adults say this is the “lowest point in our nation’s history” that they can remember. Top stressors include the future of our nation, money, work, the current political environment, and safety concerns.
Though it seems many people have a bleaker outlook on life nowadays, that doesn’t mean we can’t do something to destress and center ourselves. Breathing techniques can help you manage stress better, which will allow you to have a better handle on the current problems our world faces.
Keeping this in mind, we’ll discuss breathing exercises that utilize pranayama, which is mentioned in the quote above, as the foundation of the techniques.
Also, just in case you’re wondering, science has shown that breathing techniques are not just a New Age idea rooted in pseudoscience. In fact, some studies have shown how breathing techniques can even help with weight loss!
Without further ado, let’s get to the techniques!
HERE ARE 4 PROVEN BREATHING TECHNIQUES FOR STRESS AND ANXIETY:
1. ALTERNATE NOSTRIL BREATHING (NADI SHODHANA)
- Sit down in a comfortable area with your spine and head centered forward.
- Put your left hand face down on your lap, relaxing the muscles.
- Use your right hand to place your pointer and middle fingers between your eyebrows.
- Take a deep breath while closing your eyes, breathing only through the nose. Inhale and exhale for 30 seconds.
- Now, close your left nostril with your left thumb and inhale slowly and evenly.
- After you inhale completely, hold it for a few seconds, then release.
- Repeat step 6, but this time make sure both nostrils are closed by closing your right nostril with your right ring finger.
- Hold for a few seconds, then exhale and release.
- Now, repeat step 5, but this time close your right nostril only. (The breathing sequence should be: left nostril closed, both nostrils closed, right nostril closed, repeat). *In case you were wondering, you’ll have to breathe through your mouth when both nostrils are closed.
- Repeat for 5-10 cycles. Concentrate your mind solely on your breath for the best results.
2. ABDOMINAL ROLL (UDDIYANA BANDHA)
- Either stand or sit on a mat.
- Exhale completely, and then close the air passage in your throat to perform a “mock inhale” with your chest.
- Relax your abs and hold your breath. Attempt to inhale with your abs relaxed.
- Release the “mock inhalation” and allow the abs and chest to relax. Exhale and then repeat for 3-5 cycles.
3. DIAPHRAGMATIC BREATHING
- You can either sit or lie on your back for this breathing technique.
- Place your hands above your diaphragm.
- Now, slowly inhale through your nose and feel your stomach start to expand.
- Exhale as if you’re blowing out a candle.
- Practice these breathing techniques for 5 or 10 minutes. Make sure you pay attention to your breath and remember to breathe deeply and slowly.
This is one of the breathing techniques that you can practice anywhere, anytime. You can be in your car on the way home from work or working at your desk to practice breathing better; the point is just to practice often and try to focus only on your breath. This will help you relax and decrease anxiety.
4. THE “BELLOW” BREATH (BHASTRIKA PRANAYAMA)
- Sit on a mat or chair with your palms relaxed on your knees. Your head and spine should be centered forward.
- Relax your stomach muscles and close your eyes.
- Inhale and exhale forcefully, but comfortably. You want to make sure your breath is swift but rhythmic.
- Repeat for 5 minutes.