Diaphragmatic Breathing for Anxiety

Anxiety affects all of us in different ways, and although it is likely non-threatening, for some people it can significantly interfere in their ability to have the life they know they are capable of.

Most of us get anxious before an important exam, test results for a medical problem, or even a joyous moment like childbirth or a wedding day. But for some people, anxiety can be a crippling thing in their lives and it can take over their everyday lives, causing them to isolate, or to have panic attacks, or a range of other stress-related health issues.

Many severe sufferers of anxiety disorders will turn to the medical field for treatment. There are several different forms of treatment for those suffering from anxiety disorders- from medication to talk therapy, herbal supplements and meditation. Not everyone who suffers from anxiety suffers from it in the same way, which results in each treatment method potentially not having the same response for everyone. If you do suffer from anxiety, it is important that you seek a treatment method that works for you.

Non-invasive and budget friendly

One of the most basic, least invasive and least expensive of these methods is diaphragmatic breathing. Unlike medication which can come with side-effects, diaphragmatic breathing is often recommended by specialists to their clients as a first step in calming themselves down whenever they are faced with an anxiety-inducing situation.

Slow breathing

Diaphragmatic breathing is also known as “slow breathing”. It is a breathing technique where you breathe from your diaphragm. This allows you to slow down your breathing, lowering your heart rate and stress level when you are presented with a situation that increases your anxiety.

How do you practice?

It is advised that anxiety sufferers should practice diaphragmatic breathing at least twice a day for five minutes, while they are calm, so they can better prepare themselves to initiate the practice immediately when they feel an attack coming on.

You can practice by laying on the floor, back straight, knees bent and feet shoulder-width apart. Place one hand on your heart, the other on your abdomen. Hold your breath for ten seconds, then breathe out. Next, inhale through your nose for three seconds. Paying close attention to your hands, the one on your abdomen should move up and down as you inhale and exhale, while the one on your heart should remain still.

Both learning about the practice of diaphragmatic breathing, and practicing the technique will allow you to have greater control over your anxiety, and decrease your stress levels at the same time.

Other Applications of Diaphragmatic Breathing

Outside of the medical field of treatment, it also has practical purposes for musicians and other performers who need to expand their lung capacity in order to hit higher song notes, or stay at a particular vocal pitch for longer. It also has a place in Hatha Yoga, tai-chi and meditation, as a relaxation technique.