Written By Hannah Boothe / Reviewed By Ray Spotts
Ask anyone with anxiety what it's like, and they'll tell you it's horrid. A simple task could feel like trying to overthrow an emperor surrounded by armed guards. Fortunately, there are ways to control anxiety. Here are a few breathing techniques you can use to help control it yourself.
1. Adopt a Vedic Meditation Practice
A Vedic Meditation teacher could teach you how to practice the art of Vedic Meditation. The Vedas have been taught for thousands of years in the east, a key to their cultural heritage. It was introduced to the world in India over 5,000 years ago. At its core, it's a philosophy designed to show us how to live in accord with our nature.
You may have heard about meditation, but not all styles are the same. Vedic Meditation teaches us not to force ourselves to abandon all thoughts. Instead, we're supposed to let them pass over us as if they were clouds drifting by a mountain.
While practicing, a mantra serves as a focal point to keep the mind focused. Any time your thoughts begin sliding away from the mantra, return your focus back to it gently. After only 20 minutes of focusing on a mantra, the body enters a state of deep rest.
Best of all, it's not something you must devote hours to see results. The most important thing is to create a consistent habit you can do daily. As long as it's a part of your daily life, the results become undeniable. Research even shows a notable reduction in cortisol levels following a regular practice.
2. Use Box Breathing to Stimulate the Vagus Nerve
Our bodies have two parts to the nervous system. The parasympathetic and sympathetic nervous systems control different aspects of physiology. By controlling our breathing, it's possible to stimulate the vagus nerve.
Now, this matters because vagal stimulations activate the sympathetic network. By breathing in a controlled way, the vagus nerve turns on your sympathetic pathways. As a result of their activation, the body begins relaxing in response.
The easiest way to conceptualize how it's done is by using box breathing. Start by taking a breath in and counting for four seconds. Then, at the top of the breath, hold it for another four. After you've held it for four seconds, slowly exhale for eight seconds. Finally, repeat the process again until you've noticed a reduction in anxiety.
Our vagus nerve is active when we spend more time breathing out than in. So, you can also just focus on exhaling as much as possible. That can make a difference all by itself.
We've found the best results come after doing this several times. In general, people seem as if they're able to control their vagus nerve better with practice. So, if it's not super effective on the first try, give it some time.
3. Wim Hof Breathing Can Control Adrenergic Activity
Wim Hof is an extreme athlete known for withstanding the incredible cold. His method of breathing has been shown to be an effective technique. By quickly breathing in and out, more oxygen enters the blood. It's similar to a breathing technique used by divers before going underwater.
But, all you have to do is inhale as quickly as you can. Then, exhale just as fast. Continue doing this in a cycle for at least 20 breaths. After you've done it that much, the blood is usually hyper-oxygenated. That means it has a higher concentration of oxygen than usual.
Whenever our bodies have excess oxygen, it can enhance our metabolic rate. Also, it will extend how long you can hold your breath without taking another. Increasing the oxygen concentration of your blood may improve mood as well. So, there are tons of benefits to practicing this technique.
How Breathing Can Help Control Anxiety
Many cultures hold the breath as a sacred element, meant to be worshiped. It's certainly a part of our lives we couldn't live without. So, it's unsurprising to find out it has a ton of benefits. Learning to control your breathing can be a way to regain control of life. If anxiety has taken things away from you, take them back by breathing.
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Hannah Boothe is a freelance writer native to Northern California who spends her free time developing herself. Hannah enjoys the outdoors, she goes hiking whenever the weather permits and enjoys practicing yoga. She carves out time to journal and read whenever she can. She loves adventure and connecting with those around her.
Founder Ray Spotts has a passion for all things natural and has made a life study of nature as it relates to health and well-being. Ray became a forerunner bringing products to market that are extraordinarily effective and free from potentially harmful chemicals and additives. For this reason Ray formed Trusted Health Products, a company you can trust for clean, effective, and healthy products. Ray is an organic gardener, likes fishing, hiking, and teaching and mentoring people to start new businesses. You can get his book for free, “How To Succeed In Business Based On God’s Word,” at www.rayspotts.com.