One of the few good things to be said about anxiety is that there are lots of ways to deal with it, both in the long and short term. And if you want something that will help immediately, breathing techniques are your superpower.
What I like about deep breathing techniques is that you can use them any time you like; whether you feel anxious when driving or in any other situation. Or maybe you’re feeling fine, but you’re about to go into a situation that you find stressful. This is why I always make time for deep breathing before I’m going to do a talk or an interview. It grounds you in calm and helps you step out into the world from a place of peace rather than stress.
These are three of my favourite breathing techniques. They’re all easy to do and will help you feel calmer.
1: The Box Breath
I really like this one. It’s so easy and quite hypnotic once you get into it. I wouldn’t do it when driving (because of the visualisation element) but it’s a good one to do before a drive.
Box Breathing, also known as Square Breathing or Sama Vritti Pranayama is a breathing method from yoga. It’s very simple – breath in deeply through your nose for a count of four; hold the breath for another count of four; then exhale for four again; and pause again for a final count of four. As you go through these four stages, imagine tracing out the four sides of a flat, square box shape with your breath. Repeat your slow breaths all around the box until you feel calm and centred.
2: The Physiological Sigh
I discovered this easy and amazingly effective breathing technique recently. It’s not hugely well known but definitely deserves to be. All it is, is two inhales, followed by an extended exhale. This works to lower your levels of CO2 and leave you feeling calmer.
This video explains it well
3. Belly Breathing AKA Diaphragmatic breathing
This is a good extra-calming one to do, especially if you’re lying down so you can see your midriff moving. Place your hands on your stomach. Breathe in through your nose until you can see your belly rising. Then breathe out through the mouth for twice as long. Repeat as often as you need to.
The aim here is to fully engage your stomach, abs and diaphram in the breath. Your breaths will then become deeper and slower, lowering the heart rate and blood pressure. It’s particularly good for dealing with existing stress and anxiety and for those times when you want to feel calmer quickly.
Have you tried these breathing techniques? How did you get on? What helps you feel calmer? Leave a comment, I’d love to hear from you
You’ll find more help with dealing with anxiety here
My book Change Your Life in 5 Minutes a Day contains more tips like these and is out now