When anxious thoughts begin to fill your head, you need an effective and quick strategy for relief. While it may be tempting to curl up in your bed and hide from a stressful work situation, overwhelming responsibilities, or general feelings of anxiety, all you really have to do is breathe—at least, that's what New York City yoga instructor and teacher trainer Ally Bogard prescribes.
"We know that someone is going to be in an activated, stressful nervous system and have low-grade anxiety if the belly comes in on an inhale," Bogard tells MindBodyGreen. This reverse breathing pattern is a key indicator that you may be experiencing anxiety, compared to normal breathing in which the belly extends outward on an inhale. The way to fix it? Practice using an activated breath pattern known as diaphragmatic breathing.
By using this breathing technique, you can release any built-up tension in your organs, muscles, and digestive system and relieve feelings of anxiety, according to Bogard. The best part is it only takes about five minutes. Here's exactly how to do it.
1. Lie down and breathe through your nose, deepening through your lower belly for five to 10 breaths.
2. Place one hand on your navel and apply light pressure between the navel and lower belly as you breathe deeply and engage the diaphragm.
3. Place your other hand on the base of your ribs on the side of your body. Feel your ribs widen into your hand as you breathe.
4. Move your hand from your ribs to a spot just lower than your collarbone. Continue to feel your deep breaths in your lower belly and ribs while beginning to bring it up near your collarbone.
5. Feel your breath go deep, wide, then high with each inhale before you let it go with an exhale. Continue for ten breaths.
Head to MindBodyGreen for more on this restorative breathing technique for anxiety.