“Breathing is the essence of life. Breathe deeply, live fully.” -Gabriella Goddard
“Just breathe.” I’ve heard this phrase from my parents, from doctors, nurses, strangers, my friends. It is the mantra of well-intentioned bystanders to my anxiety. It is the phrase people tell you when they want to help you calm down but don’t know what to do. But, what does that phrase even really mean?
Yes, breathing can help with anxiety. In fact, our breath is one of my most powerful tools in my toolbox for managing my anxiety.
I know breath helps from experience, and research backs me up on my claim. An article on Livestrong states, “Breathing slowly and mindfully activates the hypothalamus, connected to the pituitary gland in the brain, to send out neurohormones that inhibit stress-producing hormones and trigger a relaxation response in the body.” Why do you think people love yoga so much? It brings awareness to your breath which helps release the build up of daily stress.
The thing many people don’t realize is that there are specific breath techniques that help with anxiety, and you have to practice these techniques, ideally daily.
When you’re in a stressful situation it is nearly impossible to get yourself to breathe and calm down without having the basic knowledge of how to breathe in the first place. It’s like playing sports. You have to practice before the game.
It is important to practice breath techniques that help you while you aren’t stressed, so that when you do feel panicked, you just automatically know what to do.
Two techniques known to help with anxiety are grounding and cellular breath. Watch Kori Ruth, local yoga instructor with Real Human Performance, lead us through these techniques below.
My advice for all of you is to figure out what type of breathing exercises work best for you. Whether it’s nostril breathing, pursed breathing, tapping exercises, yoga, or meditation, a few minutes has the power to transform your day.