With all the stresses of hectic, modern day life, many of us now have to cope with high levels of anxiety. One of the best ways to control anxiety is to learn the best natural breathing techniques, and it may surprise you to learn that many people dealing with anxiety are breathing the wrong way.
Sometimes when dealing with a high level of anxiety, it’s common to breathe shallowly through your chest, which disrupts the vital balance of oxygen and carbon dioxide in your system that helps you stay relaxed. As you can imagine, this will only worsen your anxiety.
Diaphragmatic breathing is a natural breathing technique, also known as stomach breathing. This is the way we breathe when we first come into the world, and relies on the diaphragm muscle found above our stomach and under our ribs. Breathing in pushes the muscle down and makes our stomach move forward. Breathing out moves the diaphragm back to its resting position, with little to no chest movement during the entire process.
In singing lessons, you’re told to breathe through your diaphragm, as this helps to increase your lung capacity and allows you to sing louder and longer than if you were breathing through your chest.
As we age, many of us forget to breathe through our diaphragm and begin breathing through our chest, due to a number of reasons such as bad posture, anxiety, or even the clothes we wear.
The practice of diaphragmatic breathing will help you learn to use your diaphragm correctly again. This will:
- Strengthen your diaphragm
- Slow your breathing down
- Reduce your body’s demand for oxygen
- Decrease the amount of effort and energy you use whilst breathing
We’re going to go over the diaphragm breathing technique in the steps below:
- Lie down on your back, making sure the surface below is flat and your head is supported. Bend your knees – you may wish to use a pillow underneath to support your legs.
- Place a hand on your upper chest, and another below your rib cage. Doing this should enable you to feel your diaphragm as you breathe.
- Breathe in slowly through your nose, so you feel your stomach move out against your hand. Keep the hand on your chest completely still.
- Now, make your stomach muscles tighten, falling inward as you exhale slowly through your mouth. Try pursing your lips (also known as the ‘pursed lip breathing technique’). Always keep the hand on your chest still; you should not feel any movement there.
You should try this breathing technique for a period of 5 – 10 minutes, around three or four times daily.
If you are currently dealing with anxiety and could benefit from chiropractic treatment, We at Proactive Chiropractic and Rehab Center can help you. Fill out the online form to book an initial consultation and find out more about how our services could benefit you. We’ll be happy to help.