Did you know that there is a direct relationship with our breathing pattern and stress/worry/anxiety or fear? And that it can work both ways?
When we are fearful or anxious, our breathing pattern and posture changes - this puts us in fight or flight mode. When we relax our bodies and breathe deep, we go into relax mode.
Here is what happens when we get stressed:
1. Our shoulders go up around our ears
2. Often our jaw tightens
3. We take short (sometimes fast) breaths in our upper lungs - or we hardly breathe at all!
4. Our thinking moves to the reptilian brain which triggers
off our flight/fight response read more.
The good news is that we can change this pattern, just by doing the opposite of the above...
1. Relax the shoulders and let them drop
2. Relax the jaw, puff out the cheeks and blow out through the mouth (like a horse blowing through its lips)
3. Breathe deep tummy breaths, filling it like a balloon - exhale extra slow
4. The thinking moves to the hypothalamus which controls the relaxation response
Its an interesting thing that even when we are not stressed or fearful, we can still breathe shallow breaths in the upper chest. To some degree the body still thinks we are stressed, even though we are not! If we have had a long period of stress, our body gets trained into being "on the edge" all the time - it stays in the fight/flight mode. Luckily we can un-train the body and this is done through breath work. Click here for two different techniques for breathing.
Below is a poster with tips for releasing stress. Also some links to other websites for breath work.
Other blogs related to breathing and anxiety:
Please note that these blogs are from a lay person and not a counsellor, psychologist or medical professional. If you think you have severe anxiety or depression, you should consult with a professional.
Click here for my Worry and Anxiety resource page
Elayne Lane is an instructor of the Universal Healing Tao. She has been teaching and doing bodywork in excess of 20 years.