3 Deep Breathing Exercises to Help Reduce Anxiety

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sad-505857_1920Many people are discovering the positive benefits of breathing exercises.  Those suffering from depression and anxiety are realizing that the practice of deep breathing can help reduce symptoms.  This is especially the case with those who suffer from panic attacks — and the science of breathing helps explain why.

Breathing deeply stimulates the parasympathetic nervous system, which is responsible for helping the body rest.  Its functioning is opposite that of the sympathetic nervous system, which is utilized in the fight-or-flight response.  When an animal perceives a threat, there’s a general discharge of the sympathetic nervous system which primes it for fighting or fleeing.  The nervous system activates and releases norepinephrine during the reaction, which is helpful during a dangerous situation.  If released during a perfectly safe situation, however, the norepinephrine can cause anxiety.

This is when the study of breathing can become so helpful.  Of all the functions of the body — digestive, glandular, hormonal, cardiovascular — only breathing can be easily controlled voluntarily.  By altering the pattern, rate, and depth of breathing we can influence the messages being sent to the brain.  Messages sent from the respiratory system to the brain can have powerful effects on thoughts, emotions, and behavior.

One such technique, known as “coherent breathing,” involves breathing at a rate of five breaths per minute.  This maximizes “heart rate variability,” which is a measurement of how well the parasympathetic nervous system is working.

Another breathing technique, known as “resistance breathing,” entails using either the lips, tongue, or throat to partially resist the flow of air.  This practice can induce the relaxed sensations normally associated with meditating.

Finally, there is the exercise called “breath moving. “This practice entails imagining that the breath is moving through certain parts of the body, such as the top of the head, spine, and perineum.  When done effectively, the sensations produced are similar to an internal massage.

Studying breathing techniques may take some time and practice, but the fact that they are so helpful in reducing the symptoms of anxiety is a good reason to give them a try.

Read the full article here:  3 Deep Breathing Exercises to Reduce Anxiety

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