What is the best way to deal with anxiety? The most common ways to treat anxiety are the use of medication, education and talk therapy. Part of learning how to overcome anxiety is learning specific coping skills when the anxiety is being troublesome. One specific and very helpful method is a whole category of them: breathing techniques. While this can be simply summed up as controlled breathing, there is much more to them than that.
First, let’s look at what is most helpful pieces of breathing techniques. While most people think of it as deep breathing, that is not really the case. The most important part of a breathing technique to cope with anxiety is that it is slow breathing. Deep breathing can be a part of it, but it must be done so as slowly as your body will allow to make it the most effective. Also, these techniques will be most helpful if done when the anxiety is building; when the anxiety is already at the highest level, breathing techniques lose some effectiveness.
Breathing techniques work to relieve anxiety by first distracting the mind. Controlling your breathing becomes a very complicated and strict task to focus on, and the brain can essentially lose track of the anxiety. Distraction techniques are often very useful in managing anxiety and stress. They also work by taking conscious control of breathing, which is mostly an automatic function, slows down the automatic response to anxiety that the body has, which is increased heart rate and respiration. Consciously controlling this interrupts the anxiety process, and helps calm the mind.
There are many different breathing techniques that help control anxiety, and the important thing is to find one that fits for you and your anxiety. Keep the breathing slow and measured, and they should work well.
One common technique is called 4-7-8 breathing. It starts with inhaling, while silently counting to 4, then holding it for the count of 7, and the finally exhaling for the count of 8. Keep repeating this process for a few minutes and you should notice a difference in your level of anxiety. Another technique is 4×4 breathing. This starts with inhaling to the count of 4, holding it for the count of 4, exhaling to the count of 4, and then holding it to the count of 4 before you start over again. Keep using this for a few minutes, and you should feel some relief.
Breathing techniques are very common because they are effective at managing anxiety in the moment. It may seem like it’s silly, but they do work. Try to find a breathing technique that helps manage your anxiety, as there are many out there, and you should find that your anxiety will be taken down several levels as a result.