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Breathwork for anxiety: tips for a safe and comfortable breathing practice

February 20th, 2023,

6 min read

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Why is slow breathing beneficial for anxiety?

Slow breathing exercises are often recommended for people suffering from anxiety because they can help activate the body's relaxation response, reducing feelings of stress and anxiety. When we take slow, deep breaths, we send a signal to the brain that it's okay to relax, which can in turn help calm the body and mind.

Slow breathing can also help reduce physical symptoms of anxiety, such as rapid heart rate or shallow breathing. In addition, taking slow, deep breaths can help us become more present in the moment, which can be helpful for reducing anxiety related to past or future worries. Overall, slow breathing exercises are a simple and effective tool for managing anxiety and promoting relaxation.

Focusing on your breath can be frightening in the beginning

Focusing on the breath during breathing exercises can be a helpful tool for managing anxiety, but it's true that for some people, focusing too much on their breath during breathing exercises can actually increase feelings of anxiety or panic, especially in the beginning.

This is because some people may find it difficult to let go of control and allow their breath to be natural, instead of trying to control their breath too much. This can create a sense of pressure, making it difficult to relax and increasing feelings of anxiety.

Additionally, focusing too much on the breath can cause some people to become overly self-aware or to become more aware of physical sensations like increased heart rate, which can be interpreted as a sign of anxiety or panic.

Finally, for some people, the act of focusing on breathing can bring up difficult emotions or memories related to anxiety, which can also trigger more anxiety at the moment.

However, breathing exercises can still be very helpful for anxiety when practiced in a way that feels comfortable and safe.

Tips to start your breathing practice when you suffer from anxiety

Here are a few tips for practicing breathing exercises without triggering anxiety:

  1. Start with shorter sessions: Begin with shorter breathing exercises, such as five or ten minutes, and gradually increase the time as you become more comfortable with the practice.
  2. Practice in a comfortable setting: Find a quiet, comfortable place where you feel relaxed and at ease. You can try lying down, sitting in a comfortable chair, or even taking a walk outside.
  3. Let yourself be guided: Guided meditation apps or tools like moonbird can help you focus on your breath without feeling overwhelmed or panicked.
  4. Don't force your breathing too much: Don't try to force your breathing to be way slower or deeper than it naturally wants to be. Instead, allow your breath to be natural and relaxed, and simply observe the sensation of your breath as it moves in and out of your body, decreasing the breathing rate step by step.
  5. Practice regularly: Practice breathing exercises regularly, even if it's just for a few minutes each day. Over time, you'll become more comfortable with the practice and more able to use it as a tool for managing anxiety.

How moonbird can help

Moonbird is a small handheld device that guides people's breathing in an intuitive way. The device uses motion to help users pace their breath and achieve a state of relaxation. The user holds the device in their hand and inhales as the device expands, and exhales as it shrinks. You can additionally listen to a guiding voice in the app to help users stay focused on their breath.

Moonbird can be helpful for people who have difficulty with breathing exercises because it provides a clear and intuitive way to focus on the breath. Unlike traditional breathing exercises, where the user is often left to count or estimate the length of their breath, Moonbird provides a concrete cue that makes it easy to pace the breath.

The sound and motion cues can also help to create a sense of rhythm and flow, making the practice feel more natural and less forced. Additionally, because the device is small and portable, it can be used in a variety of settings, making it easy to practice breathing exercises on-the-go.

Start small and be kind to yourself

Putting an increased focus on your breathing might be challenging at first. For some, it might enhance anxiety in the beginning.

So when you are new to breathing exercises, keep in mind your body might need time to adjust to this new way of breathing. After a few weeks you should feel more calm and connected with your body.

We advise you to practice consequently but to start slow, like 3 times a day for just a couple of minutes.

If you feel like you have a lot of trouble slowing down your breathing, or you feel like focusing on your breath makes you anxious or triggers hyperventilation, we advise you to see your doctor, a therapist or a breathing coach to further guide you.

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Calm breathing is an effective way to reduce anxiety, improve sleep and lower stress levels. It helps to get stress out of your body and calms your mind. Let moonbird guide you: easy, intuitive and effective.

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