Deep Breathing and Relieving: Ways to Reduce AnxietySeptember 21, 2021
Did you know that anxiety is the most common mental health disorder in the United States? Anxiety typically is described as an intense feeling of worry or unease; this is a normal bodily reaction to stressful situations. However, when these feelings persist constantly in everyday situations an anxiety disorder may be present. Overtime, anxiety may have negative consequences on your health and wellbeing. Possible long-term effects of anxiety include heart problems, lowered immunity, gastrointestinal disorders, memory problems, and migraines. With all that being said, if you or someone you know is suffering from an anxiety disorder it is important to get help.
Strategies for Anxiety Relief
With anxiety on the rise, it is important that we address this issue and find ways to combat it. Fortunately, there are many scientifically proven ways to help reduce stress and anxiety naturally, without having to get a doctor involved. The following are some tips and mechanisms that have been shown to reduce stress hormones that contribute to anxiety:
- Exercise. Regular exercise is one of the most vital components for maintaining mental fitness. It helps to relieve stress and can serve as a distraction from anxious feelings. In addition, exercise releases ‘feel good’ hormones into the body helping to boost mood and act as natural painkillers. Participating in exercise is also a great way to boost confidence and improve overall sleep quality.
- Meditation, yoga, and breathing techniques. You may have heard of all of these concepts separately, but they tend to go hand-in-hand with one another. Yoga incorporates both meditation and breathing techniques, and meditation heavily incorporates breathing techniques, therefore practicing one can help improve the other. All 3 techniques, practiced separately or together, have been shown to help keep your mind in the present moment and alleviate symptoms of stress or anxiety.
- Set boundaries. Practice learning how to say no! It is okay to say no to people, things, or situations that do not serve you, meaning stop sabotaging your happiness to please others. In a healthy relationship, boundaries should be set and respected. Communicate your boundaries with others and be careful not to add too much to your plate at once. Taking on too much responsibility can increase anxiety and cause you not to be able to perform at your best.
- Quit procrastinating. If you have a lot of things on your mind that you need to get done, do them! Procrastination can lead to feelings of anxiety or nervousness and can cause you to waste time thinking about what needs to be done rather than enjoying your free time. Getting responsibilities out of the way can reduce stress in your life and allow you to fully enjoy quality free time.
- Take risks. One technique that can actually help anxiety is to push yourself out of your comfort zone. Facing your fears (in a safe context) can help to reduce feelings of fear and improve your self-confidence. Embracing risks, rather than running from them, can help to overcome the feeling of failure. To achieve your dreams, you must take risks.
- Connect with others. Having positive relationships is an extremely important component of mental health. Healthy social connection has been shown to correlate with happiness and wellbeing. Make an effort to reach out to old friends or family and foster new connections.
- Try herbal remedies. If you would like to try a natural “medication” for anxiety relief, you may want to look into certain supplements or herbal remedies for treating anxiety. Lemon balm and chamomile are two herbs with powerful anti-anxiety effects. You may consume these herbs in the form of tea, capsules, or liquid extracts, being sure to consume the appropriate dosage. Omega-3 fatty acids, commonly found in fatty fish such as salmon or anchovies, helps to support brain health which is correlated to mental wellbeing. Taking these supplements or eating a healthy amount of foods high in Omega-3s can help to reduce symptoms of anxiety and other mental health struggles.
- Aromatherapy. Aromatherapy is the use of plant extracts and essential oils as a mechanism to improve psychological or physical wellbeing. Using pure extracts/oils either directly on the skin or in an oil diffuser can be a great asset to stress relief. Some of the best scents to soothe anxiety include lavender, rose, peppermint, and roman chamomile.
- Eat well. You likely have heard that what you eat impacts your mood substantially. Eating a diet rich in vegetables, fruits, whole grains, and other antioxidant-rich sources improves both physical and mental health.
Deep breathing practices
Sometimes, when suffering from a panic attack or an episode of severe anxiety you may find it hard to catch your breath. Practicing some deep breathing exercises can help you regain control over your breath and calm you down in the instance of a panic or anxiety attack. Shallow breathing can actually contribute to anxiety, as it triggers an upset in your body’s oxygen and carbon dioxide levels, causing increased heart rate, muscle tension, and other physical sensations that can worsen the effects of anxiety. Incorporating some breathing techniques or exercises into your daily routine is an effective and natural way to reduce overall stress or anxiety. Listed below are a few different breathing exercises you can give a try next time you are feeling anxious or overwhelmed.
- Belly Breathing. This type of breathing exercise is a form of deep breathing where you really place your focus on feeling and filling your stomach with the air of your breath. To practice this technique, find a comfortable and quiet spot where you can either sit upright or lie down, depending on your preference. Place one hand on your chest and the other on your stomach, and with each deep inhale, try to send the air to your stomach. Practice this technique for about 20-30 minutes a day for full effects.
- 4-7-8 Breathing. Also known as the relaxing breath, this breathing technique acts as a natural tranquilizer for our central nervous system. Try to perform this breathing technique in an upright seated position for anxiety relief (otherwise, you might fall asleep)! To begin this breathing technique, place your tongue on the roof of your mouth, inhaling to the count of four, hold the breath to the count of 7, and exhale through your mouth ending at the count of 8. You may repeat this exercise as many times as needed. This technique can also be used as an aid to help sleep, for those who struggle with getting quality sleep.
- Mindful Breathing. Sometimes referred to as mindfulness meditation, it uses breathing as a tool of focus to help keep you present and aware in the current moment. To practice mindful breathing, sit in an upright position and close your eyes. Choose a positive word or phrase to focus on that accompanies your breath. For example, you may inhale the word “here” and exhale the word “now”. Choose whatever you feel you need to focus on that day for your practice. If you find your mind drifting during this practice, take note and gently focus your attention back on the breath and phrase of choice.
Anxiety’s (non-physical) effects
While anxiety certainly can have impacts on the way you feel and your physical health, anxiety may also impact your personal life, by impacting relationships, self-confidence, and your ability to complete or attend to daily responsibilities. Depending on the form and severity of your anxiety, it can put a serious strain on your overall well-being. If you believe yourself or your child is suffering from an anxiety disorder it is important to seek out help, and practice good self-care in order to reduce the negative impacts anxiety has on your life and prevent it from getting worse.
Trails Momentum can help
Trails Momentum is a wilderness therapy program for young adults ages 18-25. This program uses adventure-based therapy as a tool to help young adults improve self-regulation and overall functioning ability. Our program provides an individualized treatment plan to each of our students, focusing on the needs and strengths of each young adult. We help to provide the tools, resources, healing space, and inspiration needed to change the lives of young adults, helping them lead happy and successful adult lives.
For more information about how our program at Trails Momentum can help struggling young adults, please contact us over the phone at (828) 457-8840.