Do you breathe correctly? This is crucial to reduce anxiety. Many people don’t and this can make us feel very tired – it takes much more energy to breathe badly. If you find you hold your breath, or your breathing is irregular, this will have an adverse affect on you. It will restrict the blood flow to your brain, lowering oxygen levels in the brain and making it hard to concentrate. The imbalance of our oxygen and carbon dioxide levels from bad breathing puts the body on high alert. A bad habit of faster shallow breathing will produce the stress hormones (cortisol, nor-adrenalin and adrenalin), which in turn will affect your sleep at night. The overused neck muscles from shallow breathing will also gradually get tighter and tighter, often causing neck and shoulder pain. The body becomes highly sensitized and triggers more readily to panic. Does this sound familiar to you?
Regular relaxation and correct breathing will stop the production of stress hormones. Practicing a breathing technique will stimulate the part of the nervous system responsible for relaxation and calming the body down. If you breathe correct body will have no choice but to relax.
It may take a few minutes but the body will respond regardless of what the mind is thinking.
The key is to use your diaphragm. This is a huge muscle at the bottom of your lungs, shaped like an umbrella, and goes up and down as we breathe. It flattens down to expand the lungs and that is why the stomach expands as we breathe in.
1.Lie down and place one hand lightly on your stomach, just below your rib cage. The other hand on your chest.
2.Breathe in through your nose and push your stomach gently up. Try and slow count up to 4.
3. Breathe out through your mouth and as you do your stomach should gently come down again. You should be able to slow count up to 8.
4. Pause between this and your next inhalation.
5. Try this up to 30 breaths over a period of weeks.
Inhalation is half the length of exhalation. At first you may only manage a short amount of time, and it is important to stop if you start to feel a bit lightheaded. Over time as your diaphragm strengthens, you will manage for longer and soon it will become your new normal.