BERKLEY, Mich. (WXYZ) — Do you ever feel anxious? Many people do. But have you tried BREATHING as a way to ease that anxiousness? One holistic health coach in metro Detroit swears by it.
According to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America, about 40 million people in the United States deal with anxiety disorders. That’s about 18 percent of the population! And that’s not even including people who get temporarily anxious taking tests or prepping for a job interview or juggling multiple children in a household.
“I have three little kids. So once in a while I’ll take that 10 seconds to breathe in and out,” said Kristen Zimmer of Berkley. “It does help!”
We asked Avionda Hull of Detroit if she ever tries deep breathing to deal with anxiety at work.
“When I feel myself getting overwhelmed or if something becomes too much,” she explained. “I think it helps throughout the day so that you won’t say anything that you will regret."
Jaclyn Renee is a holistic health coach in Berkley who believes strongly in meditative breathing. In 2012, she looked the picture of health – eating well and exercising a lot. But she was struggling with another kind of health issue.
“I had crippling anxiety. It was really hard to be in social situations. I also had a lot of digestive issues that were unresolved for a while,” Renee said. “If you think about when you’re stressed or anxious, you, most people stop breathing. And breath is what keeps the body going."
Once she started practicing deep breathing, her anxiety disappeared.
She now incorporates three breathing techniques to help ease anxiety.
3 BREATHING TECHNIQUES TO HELP EASE ANXIETY
1. BOX BREATH
The first one is Box Breath.
You can do this breathing exercise sitting in a chair with your hands resting on your knees or you can sit comfortably on the floor.
You may breathe in through the nose and then breathe out through the nose or the mouth.
“Box Breath is [breathing] 4 seconds in, 4 seconds holding your breath, 4 seconds [breathing] out, and then 4 seconds holding [your breath] again,” said Jaclyn.
It’s like you are creating a box or four equal parts.
Repeat for at least five minutes. Closing your eyes helps you focus.
Jaclyn Renee said this technique forces you to slow your breathing down which helps calm your central nervous system.
“So, if you can bring that down, you’re tapping into your subconscious level. And so many of us act out of ego, and so if we can tap into our subconscious, we become more conscious of the things that we do,” she explained.
“Once you start to incorporate [meditative breathing], you start to think how was I living without this?!” she added.
2. LION’S BREATH
Another breathing technique you often see in yoga classes is Lion’s Breath. It may look a little silly, but it’s a great way to relax your whole face – including your jaw and tongue.
“Let yourself loose a little bit so you’re not so serious about it,” said Jaclyn with a shake of your arms by her side.
You can also do this in a seated position in a chair or on the floor.
“You’re going to take maybe a 5 or 6 count breath in really deeply, and then you’re going to let it all out with your tongue,” she demonstrated with a big “HA” sound on the ‘out’ breath as her tongue was sticking out, downward towards her chin.
“If you’re having a specific anxious moment, [practicing Lion’s Breath] is going to release the muscles in your face. It’s going to bring a lot of oxygen and blood flow. It’s also how you tap into your Prana – your life-force energy,” said Jaclyn.
Prana is a Sanskrit word that refers to a universal energy that flows in and around the body.
3. CALMING ELEVATED BREATH
Her third recommended breathing technique to ease anxiety Is Calming Elevated Breath.
It is performed lying down on a mat on the floor with the lower back elevated above the heart. You may use a soft block or pillow to support your lower back. You may rest your neck on a rolled-up blanket or smaller pillow. Place your arms by your side. Then close your eyes.
Start by breathing in through the nose until your lungs are completely full. Then breathe out through pursed lips. For this exercise, Jaclyn recommends you visualize the ocean and think of your breath as the water ebbing and flowing.
HOW LONG SHOULD YOU MEDIATE PER DAY?
When you decide to begin a breathing meditation habit, do what you can. She recommends you use an app or a timer, and then start with five minutes.
“But be consistent. Consistency is key,” said Jaclyn. “I try to do at the very least 10 minutes of something, but if it’s a very anxious or stressful day, I’ll get in a couple of times a day.”
SEE YOUR DOCTOR IF ANXIETY PERSISTS
Breathing techniques are not a cure for an anxiety disorder. You should see your doctor for treatment. The good news is anxiety disorders are highly treatable. And meditative breathing can help.
Alicia Smith is the Morning Anchor at WXYZ in Detroit. She created the health franchise Living A Better Life to help us find ways to improve our mind, body, and spirit. If you have a story idea, please email her at Alicia.firstname.lastname@example.org with Living A Better Life in the subject line.