Do you pay attention to your breath? During times of intense stress, fear, or anxiety, you may notice that your breathing is affected, but have you ever noticed how you breathe during times of relaxation?
Try to notice how you breathe and how your body feels the next time you find yourself feeling relaxed. This can be after you first wake up, during a peaceful moment of calm in the afternoon, or even when lying in bed as you drift off to sleep.
Our breath at these times of relaxation tends to be slow, deep, and unhurried.
It doesn’t feel good to be stressed or anxious. But it’s worth combating stress and anxiety through breathing exercises for other reasons, too. When our stress response is frequently provoked by “day-to-day events, such as money woes, traffic jams, job worries, or relationship problems – health problems are the result.”
Those health problems can include:
- High blood pressure (which is a significant factor for heart disease)
- Lowered immune system (and a higher risk for catching colds, the flu, and other illnesses)
- Contributing to higher risk for anxiety and depression
That’s why learning deep breathing exercises to help with stress and anxiety is so important. Here are a few easy, effective breathing exercises to start with.
Breathing Exercises to Help with Stress and Anxiety
- Sit or lie flat somewhere comfortable.
- Place one hand on your belly, just below your ribs. Place your other hand on your chest.
- Take a slow, deep breath in through your nose into your belly. Your belly should push out, meaning the hand resting on your belly should rise. Practice breathing like this until you consistently get your belly hand to rise. The hand on your chest should not rise.
- Breathe out slowly through pursed lips, almost as though you are trying to whistle. You should feel the hand on your belly going down as you slowly exhale. Keep pushing until all of the air has been exhaled.
- Repeat 3 to 10 times. Take your time.
- Pay attention to how you feel at the end of the exercise.
You can practice this exercise any time during the day that you notice yourself feeling stressed or anxious.
Another helpful breathing exercise to use when you’re experiencing stress or anxiety is box breathing. It’s easy to remember, too, with four simple steps:
- Inhale through your nose for a count of 4.
- Hold your breath for a count of 4.
- Exhale through your lips for a count of 4.
- Wait at the end of your exhale for a count of 4, and then repeat the whole thing.
Keep this up for as long as you need to slow down and regulate your breathing. This is a deep breathing exercise that “has been shown to calm and regulate the autonomic nervous system.”
By slowing down and regulating your breath, you allow carbon dioxide to build back up in your blood, which in turn stimulates the vagus nerve to stimulate feelings of calm in your body.
You can also further find support for managing stress and anxiety with supplements from American Nutriceuticals, Doctor Wilson’s, and Herb Pharm.
Supplements for Stress and Anxiety
Stress Ease by American Nutriceuticals
Stress Ease from American Nutriceuticals is a vegetarian and vegan formulation that supports relief from stress symptoms and calms your mind. With vitamins and minerals including thiamin, riboflavin, niacin, folic acid, vitamin B12, calcium, magnesium, ashwagandha, L-theanine, and many more; and an herbal blend containing holy basil extract, rhodiola, lemon balm extract, and eleuthero.
Adrenal Rebuilder by Doctor Wilson’s
Adrenal Rebuilder from Doctor Wilson’s is a natural supplement designed to help you with symptoms of stress. It provides natural support for people experiencing stress and symptoms related to overworked adrenal glands. This unique blend of calcium, porcine glandular (processed to remove hormones), and inositol is intended to help build and support healthy adrenal tissue structure and function and support the other glands most affected by stress. Adrenal Rebuilder is completely free of hormones, while still retaining the nutritional components that help build glandular structure and function.
Anxiety Soother by Herb Pharm
Anxiety Soother from Herb Pharm is an herbal supplement that provides calming support for occasional and mild anxiety. It gives this calming and stabilizing support with its proprietary blend of kava rhizome with root, passionflower flowering herb, Bacopa herb, Albizia bark, lavender flower, and lavender flower essential oil. Each herb in this formula is individually extracted to ensure a broad spectrum of therapeutic plant compounds.
What are your favorite breathing exercises to help with stress and anxiety?