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Breathe to Reduce Anxiety and Depression

Updated: Jul 23, 2023

Then the Lord God formed a man from the dust of the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living being.

Genesis 2:7 NIV


Most teens and young adults develop some form of anxiety and, due to Covid, more have it now than just a few years ago. If you want a method to reduce your anxiety, try the technique below. It originated among those who meditate and is standard practice for reducing anxiety and depression. It makes you relax. I used it with counseling clients many times. Give it a try when you feel stressed.


It is important to measure your anxiety level before we begin. We will then measure at the end of the exercise to see how much improvement has occurred.


On a scale of 1 to 10, with 10 being off-the-charts anxiety, rate your anxiety level. Write that number down.


If your anxiety is out of control or almost there, this technique may not help much. Call 988 for free to talk with someone who can help reduce it from critical levels. They will help you gain more control. Then you can use this technique to reduce your anxiety to the best level.


Let’s get started. Slowly take a very deep breath, hold it for three seconds, and slowly release it. Feel a little bit better? Probably you did.


Why did that happen? The lungs are linked to a cranial nerve that goes straight to the brain. When the lungs expand more than normal, a signal is sent via that nerve to your brain telling it to relax. Deep breathing is a sign of a relaxed body. If you keep breathing deeply, your brain will force your body to enter a relaxed state.


You can use this anywhere, in a class, office, meeting, or a crowd. I use it while driving in heavy traffic. NOTE: do not close your eyes if in a dangerous situation.


Now back to the exercise, again breathe deeply and hold for three seconds. Let it out slowly. Repeat breathing this cycle for at least five minutes. For best results, do this for ten minutes.


One last thing to know. If you are thinking about something stressful while you are breathing, this exercise will not be as effective. You will reduce some of your anxiety, but your stressful thoughts are like gasoline thrown on the anxiety fire. Try refocusing your thoughts on how your lungs expand and empty as you breathe. If you redirect your thoughts to your breathing, you will see a much greater anxiety reduction.


When you finished your breathing exercise, measure your anxiety level. On a scale of 1-10, with 10 being off-the-charts anxiety, rate your anxiety level. Write that number down and compare it to the first number. You should see a good if not great reduction in your anxiety.


I have a blog, Breathing the Holy Spirit, that uses this technique but takes it to a spiritual level. Give it a try.


Blessings

Tom

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