In times of stress or when we are feeling anxious, we tend to take rapid, shallow breaths that come directly from the chest. This type of breathing is commonly referred to as thoracic or chest breathing. This way of breathing can result in increased heart rate, dizziness or other physical sensations. It is a sign that our blood is not being properly oxygenated which may signal a stress response. To combat this we can focus on abdominal breathing instead where we take even, deep breaths. We’re likely to use this way of breathing when we’re in a relaxed stage of sleep and should help in calming the body.
So, with this in mind, the next time you’re feeling anxious try to focus on this breathing technique instead:
- Exhale slowly through your mouth, pursing your lips slightly and keeping your jaw relaxed
- Inhale slowly through your nose while relaxing your shoulders (your chest should barely rise)
- Hold your breath for a count of 5
You can repeat this simple exercise as many times as you feel necessary.