Anxiety breathing

Anxiety, stress and constant tension can lead to distress physically as well as mentally. Here, it is important to gain knowledge in self-management when it comes to emotions. It takes expertise to develop this skill over time. Only perfect practice makes for perfect results. Shallow, restricted breathing is accompanied by anxiety. Deep, natural, balanced breathing becomes next to impossible and alters one's posture as well, giving rise to other functional and energy restrictions. The respiratory system, comprising the diaphragm, lungs, rib cage, windpipe and neck, may not function and synchronize together and fail to permit normal, steady, balanced and grounded breathing. The emotional states also get jarred.

    Pain can be experienced in any organ or body part. Apart from this there are numerous other causes of anxiety, such as excess food intake, irregular meal patterns, lifestyle, adrenal dysfunction, synthetic stimulants or drugs, etc. Innumerable responsibilities and financial, professional and personal life issues can increase the woes. Thus we find that most suffer from anxiety in everyday life, which in turn, affects the breathing system. The worst thing is that with the commencement of anxiety, the irregular breathing pattern also creeps in and we naively get adapted to the new, unhealthier breathing pattern. With the negative breathing pattern, the everyday balance on physical and mental level becomes spontaneously distorted. It’s a vicious cycle.

    Can anxiety lead to shallow breathing or does the restricted breathing lead to anxiety? Both actually. Circumstances and conditions may arise which can affect the normal breathing. Constricted breathing can occur even in non-anxiety states. There is an idea that gets developed that makes one BELIEVE the breathing is not normal. The person often believes it is real because the breathing foundation is not strong enough to maintain a challenging enough thought. The person has lost, or never had, the feeling of deepest calm or inner peace. Here it becomes obligatory to quiet the mind, but with the poor breathing, this may be difficult or impossible. By practicing proper breathing development techniques, one can gain back control over breathing. Then, breathing techniques can bring in a lot of relief and work wonderfully for stress management. They help to evade tension and establish calm and tranquility.

    Emotions and breathing go hand-in-hand. They are interconnected and interdependent. When a person is in a state of anxiousness or mental trauma, one of the first changes that is noticed is variable, inconsistent breathing. When a person is calm and composed, the breathing is deep, relaxed and balanced. Here is a deep breathing exercise that can be practiced anywhere and at any place and the best part is that it can be done in standing, sitting or lying postures.


    The benefits associated with this simple technique are numerous. Firstly it can calm the mind and bring a normal, rhythmic, breathing movement back in. Secondly, with enough repetition will aid increased regulation of the breathing system, and the circulatory system will work in a better way as the nervous system gets toned. It sets in a sense of perfect equilibrium for the emotions. These ways of better breathing help eject impure air and other impurities from the respiratory system. They work wonders in cleansing the nasal passage and often rectify problems related to the sinuses. They leave one energized, bringing in calmness and relaxation to the entire body.

    Apart from this, by giving up certain negative qualities that have become part and parcel with our lifestyle, one can bring in more harmony, relaxation and comfort with change. The basic way is to work from the root cause by letting go of the negative traits and eating habits and following a consistent more disciplined lifestyle. Simple and repeated things like giving up caffeinated drinks, alcohol, or smoking can do wonders in bringing back the normal functioning of the body. Similarly, incorporating simple breathing methods on a daily basis can mitigate relying on prescription drugs for insomnia, stress management and a host of other possibilities that oxygen and nervous system function play a huge part in.

    During anxiety, people tend to take rapid, short breaths with a too high proportion of the inhalation in the upper chest. During times of stress, people unintentionally breathe in such a manner. Repeated breathing in this UDB pattern eventually creates DISTRESS. Problems with this kind of breathing are that it can disturb the balance of oxygen and CO2 levels and distort central and peripheral nervous-system function, resulting in reactions like rapid palpitation, nausea, anomalous physical sensations and restlessness. This indicates that proper oxygen levels are not reaching the tissues and the nervous system is over stimulating the nerves causing tension and over constriction of the vessels. This can worsen the situation by giving way to panic attacks.

    Some believe that one can verify one’s breathing pattern by placing a hand over the chest and keeping the other hand on the belly. Then they breathe and observe which hand elevates the most. They teach that if the hand placed at the lower abdominal region lifts more, your breathing pattern is good, or else vice-versa. The real issue is that, as soon as stress arises, the pattern changes and the so-called proper breathing pattern is lost in the stress-filled moment.

    The key is to develop the breathing so that when stress arrives the pattern stays the same, a strongly anchored/grounded pattern that supports staying calm even during extreme stress, as seen with those who maintain courage under fire, or “walking calmly through the gates of hell.”



Content copyright 2009-2010 by Michael Grant White and Breathing.com. All rights reserved.