Dealing with anxiety can be stressful and challenging. But if you’re experiencing it, you aren’t alone. Anxiety is a very widespread, common experience; for many people, managing feelings of anxiety is a regular part of daily life.
Nor does anxiety mean there’s something wrong with you, either physically or psychologically. Rather, anxiety can indicate something else is going on in your life that isn’t being attended to, big or small. Anxiety is a bit like the body’s “check engine” light — a gentle indicator that something needs attention.
Read on to learn more about how anxiety can show up and how breathing exercises can help.
What Does Anxiety Feel Like?
There are many different ways anxiety can be experienced in the body, and it’s incredibly common to experience these feelings without being fully aware of what they are. Managing anxiety, either independently or with a therapist, starts with becoming attuned to these signs, and recognizing them.
Shallow breathing, rapid heart rate, and a feeling of tension are all telltale physical signs of anxiety, while feeling unsafe, overwhelmed, or overcome by uncontrollable emotions like sadness or anger are common emotional clues.
An Introduction to Breathwork
To get past the symptoms and treat the underlying issues themselves, it may be best to work with a therapist — especially for ongoing, chronic anxiety. However, anxiety and the feelings it causes absolutely can be managed on our own. One of the most reliable and accessible tools for doing so is breathwork, or breathing exercises.
Breathing exercises can help us regulate these distressing symptoms, and ground ourselves in the moment. When we’re anxious, our sympathetic nervous system shifts into a state of heightened awareness, often referred to as a “fight or flight” response. This is our body trying to protect us from a perceived danger — but since you likely aren’t actually running away from an immediate physical threat, anxiety is more distracting and upsetting than anything else.
Why Breathing Works
Breathwork is a safe, proven technique to manage the symptoms of anxiety, by supporting the nervous system to shift back into a state of safety and return to a grounded, calm state. Even as we continue with therapeutic work, breathing exercises are a valuable, empowering tool to manage our day-to-day feelings of anxiety.
You may already be familiar with the power of breathing exercises, especially through popular practices like yoga and mindfulness meditation. One of my personal favourite techniques is known as ‘Voo Breathing.’
This lesser-known breathing technique is intended specifically to help manage physical responses to trauma and anxiety. I’ve encouraged many of my friends and clients to try out Voo Breathing in their daily lives, and have found personal benefit from it, as well.
Try Out Voo Breathing
To help you apply Voo Breathing within your own life, we’ve put together a brief, downloadable one-page guide. Click here to access it.