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Treat Anxiety and Boost Energy with Diaphragmatic Breathing

Posted Dec 13 2009 12:32am
Breathing properly can make a huge difference both mentally and physically. Unfortunately there are several barriers that may prevent you from breathing from your abdominal area. Poor posture, stress and anxiety and even tight clothing may prompt you to breathe using your chest muscles rather than the diaphragm.

Diaphragmatic Breathing

Diaphragmatic breathing, also called belly breathing, is an easy deep breathing practice that coaches you on how to use your diaphragm for breathing. The diaphragm is the sheet of muscle located at the bottom of your lungs. When you inhale properly, the diaphragm flattens and shrinks while your chest area expands. The vacuum this action creates pulls air into your lungs; as you exhale, the diaphragm relaxes and the chest cavity is reduced.

Deep breathing exercises are often prescribed as a complementary treatment for people with excessive stress and anxiety in their life. If you often feel tense and anxious or you simply want to want to boost your energy levels and endurance, try diaphragmatic breathing.

Clear your Mind

You can stand, lie down and sit comfortably in a chair; no yoga cross-legged positions are necessary. Try to clear your mind of the stresses of life such as the chores left still to do or the fact you still have a ton of holiday cards to send off. If you cannot calm yourself, you will not be able to adequately perform the deep breathing exercises for your mental and physical health.

Develop Better Posture

How you hold your body, your posture, is an important facet to performing diaphragmatic breathing properly. With the right posture, you can get a lot more air into your lungs which in turn mean more energy because of the increase of oxygen flowing throughout the blood vessels. Imagine a string stretching from your diaphragm to your chest. When your posture is correct and you breathe deeply, that imaginary string will pull taut, feeling like the area from your chest to your belly button is lengthening.

Breathe in through the Nose and Out the Mouth

For maximum results, when you practice diaphragmatic breathing, you must breathe in through the nose and exhale out the mouth. To ensure you are breathing in properly, place one hand against your abdominal area, with your thumb resting near your belly button. Breathe in slowly through your nose evenly and allow your abdominal area to enlarge, rather than your chest cavity. Your hand should be pushing away from your abdomen.

After a good breath in (it may last a few seconds), you must release it slowly and evenly as you exhale through the mouth. Your exhaled breath should take twice as long as it took you to breathe in. During your deep breathing exercises, try to be conscious of the length of exhalation but do not force anything.

Repeat as Needed

During the course of a busy day, you may not realize that you are breathing from your chest area rather than your diaphragm. It takes practice, believe it or not, before you are diaphragmatic breathing as a rule rather than as the exception. Several times throughout the day, practice your deep breathing, taking care to clear your mind and improve your posture before breathing in and out. You will feel more alert and less anxious, leading to a more productive, less stressful day.

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