Breath. Such a simple thing. It’s essential to life, but yet how often do we think about it? It ebbs and flows throughout our days and we barely give it a second thought, but breathing can be a powerful tool to reduce stress and lower anxiety. Most of us are going through a stressful, anxiety inducing season, because of so many changes since Covid-19 appeared on our collective radar. We’re going to look at some ways our breath can improve stress and anxiety, and include some specific techniques you can use to relieve stress and relax your body with mindful breathing, in between massage therapy appointments.
Deep breathing can reduce Anxiety
“Anxiety disorders are the most common mental illness in the U.S., affecting 40 million adults in the United States age 18 and older,” according to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America. Implementing a deep breathing technique when anxiety strikes can make the difference between a full on attack and an unwelcome blip in your day. Deep breathing lowers your heart rate, improves circulation and promotes clearer thinking. Remembering to take a breather will help you actively relax and redirect your anxious responses.
You can use your breath to calm down
Let’s face it, when tempers flare it seems almost impossible to think about anything other than the current situation that set you off. Strong emotions, like anger, can quickly lead to physical expressions, such as muscle tension and high blood pressure. Practicing simple breathing techniques for anger management can encourage calmness and help you to get ahead of the stress response.
Technique for Anxiety and Calm
- Isolate yourself from everyone for 15 minutes
- Inhale slowly for the count of 4
- Exhale slowly for the count of 8
- Notice the space in between the inhalation and exhalation
- Repeat until you begin to calm down
Take breathing even deeper with pranayama
Pranayama is the practice of using the breath to soothe an active mind. If practiced right, pranayama can bring harmony between mind, body and spirit. It boosts your ability to be mentally and spiritually strong. There are very specific breathwork techniques that are outside the scope of this article, but we recommend reading up and finding a good teacher. This Breathing Basics video is a good starting point to begin to understand how to do pranayama style relaxing breathing on your own.
Breathwork can be a fantastic addition to your mindfulness or meditation practice. It can allow us to open our hearts and our minds. It has been said that it can move stuck energy as well. Here is a video of a brief yet profound Meditation to Start Your Day.
Much like massage, there is no doubt that breathing can encourage relaxation, stress relief, and lower anxiety. Naturally relax your muscles and be kind to yourself with some of these simple additions to your daily health and wellness practices. Breathing happens so naturally, that we may easily forget the deeply impactful and positive boost it can give us, when we take the time to pay a little more attention to it.
Come by and visit our practice Hands on Health Massage Therapy and Wellness in Cary, North Carolina to work with our team of highly trained and experienced practitioners. Help your body and mind feel relaxed and stress free!