Being a teenager can be really stressful, especially when you have to deal with personal problems in addition to your regular busy schedule of sports, schoolwork and social events. It’s no wonder so many teenagers struggle with anxiety. Thankfully, deep breathing practices can help improve your overall mental health and outlook while aiding in the production of endorphins (chemicals that trigger a positive feeling in the body). Here are a few breathing tips you can use to shift your anxious body from a panicked response into relaxation mode.
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Many sufferers of anxiety tend to breathe too quickly and shallowly from the upper parts of their lungs during stressful situations. Because our bodies are designed to take slow, steady breaths from the lower parts of our lungs, taking quick and shallow breaths often produces uncomfortable physical symptoms such as dizziness and nausea. By exhaling deeply you are emptying your lungs of excess built-up carbon dioxide. After exhaling, your body will reflexively breathe in a deep lungful of fresh oxygen.
Take Measured Breaths
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Drop your shoulders, relax your jaw and breathe in slowly through your nose while counting to four. While inhaling, ensure that your shoulders stay down while allowing your stomach to expand as you breathe in. After you’ve finished inhaling hold your breath for two counts and then exhale slowly while counting to seven. Repeat this exercise for a few minutes. Counting while breathing will help you focus your mind and become grounded while preventing hyperventilation.
Breathe Through Your Belly
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Sit up straight and imagine an invisible string lifting your chest; you should feel the area between your belly button and your chest lengthen. Then, place one hand flat on your stomach with your thumb around your belly button. Inhale slowly and deeply through your nose and allow your breath to expand your belly rather than your chest—think of your belly as a balloon being filled with air. When you’ve inhaled as much air as possible without feeling uncomfortable, hold your breath for five counts and then exhale through your mouth as long as you can as you pull your belly in. Sitting up with straight and proper posture will help energy and oxygen circulate through your body, while breathing from your belly will help lower your heart rate.
Practicing these exercises throughout the day will benefit your mental health by helping you become more relaxed. While breathing exercises can be done at any time, they are especially beneficial before stressful events such as an exam, sports game or performance and during panic attacks.
Next time you are dealing with feelings of anxiety, try one of the above exercises and pay special attention to how you feel after breathing deeply for a few minutes compared to before. You may just find that deep breathing is the most effective way you can reduce anxiety without having to leave your chair.
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