Learn how to breathe for anxiety and stress relief - Diaphragmatic Breathing Benefits



Diaphragmatic breathing, or deep breathing from the diaphragm rather than the chest, is a way to relax and reduce stress and anxiety. Although we are all capable of breathing this way, very few of us do so in our everyday lives.


What is the Diaphragm?

The diaphragm, a dome-shaped muscle at the base of the lungs, plays an important role in breathing — though you may not be aware of it.


When you inhale, your diaphragm contracts (tightens) and moves downward. This creates more space in your chest cavity, allowing the lungs to expand. When you exhale, the opposite happens — your diaphragm relaxes and moves upward in the chest cavity.


All of us are born with the knowledge of how to fully engage the diaphragm to take deep, refreshing breaths. As we get older, however, we get out of the habit. Everything from the stresses of everyday life to the practice of "sucking in" the stomach for a trimmer waistline encourages us to gradually shift to shallower, less satisfying "chest breathing."


Relearning how to breathe from the diaphragm is beneficial for everyone!


What is diaphragmatic breathing?

Diaphragmatic breathing (also called "abdominal breathing" or "belly breathing") encourages full oxygen exchange — that is, the beneficial trade of incoming oxygen for outgoing carbon dioxide

  • Strengthen the diaphragm

  • Decrease the work of breathing by slowing your breathing rate

  • Decrease oxygen demand

  • Use less effort and energy to breathe

  • Slows the heartbeat

  • It can lower or stabilize blood pressure.

How does it help anxiety and stress?


Deep breathing helps you to avoid the "fight-or-flight" response to stressful situations. In these situations, your body's automatic systems are on high alert and signal your heart to beat faster and your breathing rate to increase. By consciously becoming aware of your breathing and regulating its depth and rate, the likelihood of spiraling into a panic or anxiety attack is lowered.


Here's how to do it:

  • Lie on your back on a flat surface (or in bed) with your knees bent. You can use a pillow under your head and your knees for support if that's more comfortable.

  • Place one hand on your upper chest and the other on your belly, just below your rib cage.

  • Breathe in slowly through your nose, letting the air in deeply, towards your lower belly. The hand on your chest should remain still, while the one on your belly should rise.

  • Tighten your abdominal muscles and let them fall inward as you exhale through pursed lips. The hand on your belly should move down to its original position.

You can also practice this sitting in a chair, with your knees bent and your shoulders, head, and neck relaxed. Practice for five to 10 minutes, several times a day if possible.


👇You can also watch this short tutorial I made with

Dr. Rachel Goldman!👇



Happy Breathing!







Sources:

https://www.health.harvard.edu

https://my.clevelandclinic.org

https://www.verywellmind.com


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