Shortness Of Breath Anxiety Breathing Techniques To Do Right Now

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Here is a list of breathing techniques for when you, or someone around you, begin to experience shortness of breath because of anxiety.

RELATED: Service Dog For Anxiety: How Animals Can Help You Cope With Anxiety

Breathing Drills for Shortness of Breath Due to Anxiety

1. Guided Meditation

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A girl lies on her bed listening to music with headphones on.

Guided meditation is an activity performed with the guidance of a trained practitioner face to face, through audio, video, verbal, or written instructions. This exercise helps alleviate the symptoms by interrupting thinking patterns that stimulate stress.

The meditation walks you through the steps to visualize a calmer reality and to take control of any stressful thoughts.

How to do it:

  1. Secure a cool, dark, and convenient place.
  2. Sit on a comfortable chair or lie on your bed or the ground.
  3. Listen to the calming recordings or instructions that help your body to relax.
  4. While relaxing, steady your breathing until you feel better.

2. Alternate Nostril Breathing

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A woman does breathing exercises while sitting on her bed.

This is a yoga breathing practice and it is performed as part of meditation activities. It promotes overall well-being, reduces anxiety, and relaxes the mind and body to improve focus and awareness.

How to do it:

  1. Sit on a chair, bed, or anywhere comfortable while widening your chest and straightening your spine.
  2. Place your left hand on your lap and raise the other hand up.
  3. Position the middle and pointer fingers of your right hand on your forehead, between the eyebrows.
  4. Close your eyes. Inhale and exhale with your nose several times.
  5. Still closing your eyes, use your right thumb to close your right nostril and inhale gradually through your left nostril.
  6. Pinch your nose to close with your right thumb and finger and hold your breath for a few seconds before releasing.
  7. Close your left nostril with your right ring finger and slowly inhale through your right nostril.
  8. Repeat Step 6.
  9. Repeat the inhaling and exhaling activity for each nostril 10 times or as needed.

3. Lion’s Breath

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Like what its name implies, the lion’s breath is done forcefully. It helps ease the mind as it opens the throat chakra and boosts confidence.

How to do it:

  1. Get into a kneeling position. Rest the bottom of your feet and cross your ankles. You can also sit cross-legged.
  2. Stretch your arms with your hands above your knees and fingers extended.
  3. Inhale through your nose.
  4. Exhale with your mouth while vocalizing a “ha” sound. When you do, open your mouth really wide and stick out your tongue downward as far as you can. Also, put your attention to your forehead or end of your nose.
  5. Inhale again while relaxing your face.
  6. Repeat the steps six times and change the cross of your ankles or legs when you reach the halfway point.

4. Coherent Breathing

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This technique involves taking long and slow breaths at a rate of around five each minute. It allows you to relax while calming your anxiety.

How to do it:

  1. Lie down and then close your eyes.
  2. Slowly inhale through your nose with your mouth closed for a count of six seconds but don’t breathe in the air too much.
  3. Exhale slowly for a count of six seconds but don’t force it.
  4. Continue inhaling and exhaling for up to a maximum of 10 minutes.
  5. Feel your body for a few minutes after doing this exercise and see how it feels.

5. Equal Breathing

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This is also one of the yoga breathing exercises for anxiety and involves inhaling for the same amount of time as exhaling. It helps calm your autonomic nervous system to lower stress hormones in your body that trigger anxiety and weaken your ability to focus.

Autonomic Nervous System Definition: A control system responsible for regulating several bodily functions like digestive process, heart rate, breathing, and urination

How to do it:

  1. Sit or lie down on a comfortable surface.
  2. Close your eyes and focus on your breathing rhythm for a moment.
  3. Slowly inhale through your nose counting 1-4.
  4. Slowly exhale with the same counting.
  5. Continue doing this as needed and make sure you do the same counting as you breathe in and out.

RELATED: Common Signs Of Anxiety In Toddlers And Teens You Need To Watch Out For

6. Breath Focus

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This exercise for shortness of breath caused by anxiety is a technique that deals with the use of a word to help with your focus, mental detachment, and deep, rhythmic breathing. It allows you to switch your mind from stressful thoughts to the activity.

How to do it:

  1. Sit or lie down in a comfortable position.
  2. Take one slow but deep breath through your nose as you notice your upper body and belly expanding.
  3. Exhale in the most comfortable way you can. You can do a sigh if you want.
  4. Choose a word you can focus on and vocalize it when you exhale. It’s best to use a one-syllable word.
  5. Imagine a gentle wave as you inhale.
  6. Imagine you’re throwing negative thoughts away while you exhale.
  7. Repeat this as needed and focus on how your belly and upper body expand and fall back.
  8. If you get distracted, slowly bring back your attention to your breathing exercise using your word focus.
  9. Do this for 20 minutes and see results.

7. Diaphragm Breathing

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Diaphragm Definition: The organ located beneath the lungs

When you perform diaphragm breathing, it aids in reducing the amount of work you need to breathe. It also helps you relax as it lowers the negative effects of the stress hormone, cortisol.

How to do it:

  1. Lie down with a pillow under your head and knees. You can also sit down with knees bent and your shoulders, neck, and head relaxed.
  2. Place a hand under your rib cage and the other hand over your heart.
  3. Breathe in and out through your nose while noticing how your chest and stomach move.
  4. Do this for up to 10 minutes and for three to four times daily.

Note: You may feel tired at first if you’re not used to breathing using your diaphragm, but it will get easier over time with more practice.

8. Exhale Lengthening

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Lengthening your exhalation relaxes your parasympathetic nervous system, which triggers you to hyperventilate when you’re under stress.

How to do it:

  1. Take a thorough exhale before inhaling deeply. Let all the air in your lungs out.
  2. Take a deep breath, longer than your usual inhaling.
  3. Do long inhales and exhales but extend your breathing out. For example, take four seconds of inhaling and then six seconds of exhaling.
  4. Repeat the cycle for 2-5 minutes.

Note: You can do this in any comfortable position for you.

9. Relaxing Breath

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This breathing technique is an alternative to equal breathing and helps you fall asleep faster.

How to do it:

  1. Sit or lie down comfortably with eyes open or closed.
  2. Press the tip of your tongue against the roof of your mouth.
  3. Slightly open your mouth and slowly exhale.
  4. Close your mouth and inhale slowly through your nose in four counts.
  5. Hold your breath for seven seconds.
  6. Exhale slowly for eight seconds.
  7. Repeat this four times daily.

These breathing exercises for shortness of breath are best paired with anxiety supplements such as the Chill Pill. Pop a pill or two or as advised by your physician whenever you feel extremely stressed or anxious.

What other breathing techniques for anxiety can you share with us? Leave them in the comments section below!

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