Stress has become a part of life, but instead of living with it, we must find the tools with which to combat it. Yoga is one such tool that can deal with physical, emotional and mental issues caused by stress, and give you a better perspective of life.

According to Samiksha Shetty, a certified yoga educator and the founder of Moon Village Cafe, yoga postures (asanas), breathwork (Pranayama) and meditation induce a sense of calm and relaxation from within, and if you are looking for how you can de-stress, this is what you need to know.

“In yoga, we use movement and breath to release stuck energy along the spine and throughout the body. The mind-body connection created in yoga facilitates change at a cellular level. Our nervous systems can rewire by retraining psychological or emotional triggers that set off our flight-or-fight response,” she explains.

She lists these asanas and breath exercises to enhance the mood and give you an instant spike in energy.

1. Downward-facing dog /Adho Mukha Svanasana

This helps unwind the entire body. It strengthens the arms and shoulders, lengthens the spine, calves and hamstrings and energises the body by bringing blood flow to the brain.

Start on the floor by placing your hands and knees down. Straighten your legs by lifting your knees off the floor and push your heels down as far as they can go. Extend the spine by pushing away from the ground using your palms. Stay here for 5 to 9 breaths.

2. Ushtrasana (Camel Pose)

Your spine holds your entire body upright, is part of the central nervous system and responsible for all bodily functions. This is where repressed anger and stress is held. Backbends work on your heart chakra as it opens the chest and leaves you feeling more energised.

Come to your knees, with your legs hip-width apart. Place your hands on your hips, with your thumbs at the base of your spine. Press your shins and the top of your feet into the mat (or tuck your toes for an easier version). Inhale, lift your chest and slowly start to bring your torso back. From here, bring your right hand to rest on your right heel and your left hand to rest on the left heel. Keep your head in a relatively neutral position, so as to not strain your neck. Hold for 30 seconds.

3. Baddha Konasana (Butterfly Pose)

This pose relieves stiffness in the ankles, knees and hips and improves hip mobility. It also helps give a good emotional release. Your hips store pent up emotions of fear and worry which blocks you from moving forward.

Variation 1: Begin by sitting on the floor with your legs stretched out straight in front of you and spine erect. Now, bring the soles of your feet together, bending both your knees to the side. Place your feet in front of your pelvis, around a fist distance from your groin. Now, take deep breaths and press your thighs and knees down towards the floor providing gentle pressure. In a slow and controlled motion begin to flap both your legs from the hip like the wings of a butterfly for around 60 seconds.

Variation 2: Once you come into position with your feet pressed together, hold them with your hands and open your feet like a book towards the ceiling. Take a deep breath and on your exhale, bend forward bringing your chin or forehead towards the mat. Hold for 30 to 60 seconds and then come back up.

Variation 3: Supta Baddhakonasana (lying down on the floor with legs in the same position).

4. Happy Child’s Pose

This asana lengthens and stretches out your spine and hips simultaneously. It also alleviates fatigue and moves the mind to a playful mode.

Lie down on your back with your knees bent into your belly. Grab your feet with your hands and keep your knees slightly wider than your torso. Your ankles should be directly above your knees. Now gently pull your hands down and simultaneously push your feet up to create resistance. Stay here for 9-12 breaths.

5. Savasana (Corpse Pose)

Savasana is one of the most important asanas in yoga. It balances your nervous system and helps the body enter a state of calm by removing emotional blockages.

Start by lying down on your back with your hands and legs stretched out keeping your body in one line. Keep your legs slightly apart and your feet and knees completely relaxed. Place your hands at your sides, palms open and facing upward. Feet and toes should be rolled out. Now close your eyes. Relax your entire body while breathing slowly and deeply. Observe the changes in the body and mind. Wait for 5-10 minutes or till you feel completely relaxed and then gently roll on to the right side making your way up into a seated position.

Beathing

Natural breath

Simply breathing and noticing the natural breath is necessary. The breath is the only voluntary and involuntary body function that reveals unconscious emotional, mental and physical patterns.

Try this:

– Breathe in and notice thoughts as they arise.
– Breathe out, and notice thoughts as they dissipate.
– Give yourself permission to detach from your thoughts during this time.
– Simply observe the quality of your natural breath.

Belly breathing/abdominal breathing

Sit in any comfortable meditative posture with your eyes closed. Bring your focus onto your navel. Keep your entire body still. Inhale, feel the diaphragm move downwards while expanding the abdominal muscles outwards. Exhale, feel the dominant abdomen contract as you pull in the belly.

If it is difficult to perform this breathing technique while sitting up straight, try performing it while lying down in savasana.

Also try

Body scan meditation: It is a good way to release physical tension. Start by lying down in savasana. Then begin by mentally scanning yourself, as you bring awareness to different parts of the body and bodily sensations, starting from the feet moving up towards the head.

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Living with anxiety — whether you're suffering from short-term stress or a long-term disorder — can be challenging, but there are ways you can help yourself.

Starting with a small behaviour change, like adding in an afternoon walk, can make a noticeable difference in the way you feel. There are also plenty of smaller habits you can adopt to soothe your feelings when your anxiety levels are high.

To calm your anxiety long term, it's important to commit to making lifestyle changes, and develop a system to hold yourself accountable — such as leaning on friends or family for support and encouragement. 

"If you are open to acting differently than how you feel, most of my patients are amazed by how freer their lives become and regret not seeking help sooner," says Jennifer L. Taitz, a clinical psychologist and professor of psychology at the University of California, Los Angeles.

Having a toolbox of methods that help boost your mood and take your mind off your stressors can be useful for anyone suffering from anxiety. Here are 17 self-treatment methods that can help mitigate feelings of anxiety, whether you have an anxiety disorder or not. 

1. Exercise regularly 

Exercise can be very effective at relieving the symptoms of anxiety and boosting your mood.  

"Moderate physical activity such as walking for 60 minutes, 4 days per week, can be nearly as effective as medication for reducing anxiety," says Dawn Jonas, NMD, with the Southwest College of Naturopathic Medicine. 

A 2017 review of six randomised controlled studies concluded that "exercise significantly decreased anxiety symptoms more than control conditions." Another 2017 review found that resistance training — like weight lifting — also had a significant impact on reducing anxiety levels. 

In fact, even short, simple exercises like a 20-minute walk have been found to reduce stress. 

2. Stick to a sleep schedule

Anxiety can make it difficult to sleep, and not being well-rested can contribute to more anxiety. 

However, there are a few key ways to get better sleep with anxiety, such as having a sleep routine that includes going to bed and waking up at the same time each day. 

Overall, trying to get near the recommended 7 to 9 hours of sleep each night can help keep anxiety at bay. "Inadequate sleep increases the production of stress hormones that can exacerbate anxiety," Jonas says.  

3. Try mindfulness and relaxation techniques 

Mindfulness meditation and relaxation techniques can help calm anxiety. These can be useful as a daily practice, or when you feel a spike in anxiety coming on. 

"When we practice mindfulness or relaxation techniques, we learn how to calm down feelings of anxiety or not let them get in the way of our lives," says Alisa Kamis-Brinda, a psychotherapist at Serenity Solutions

In fact, a 2019 scientific review of 10 studies found that mindfulness-based interventions were more effective than cognitive-behavioural therapy for reducing distress associated with anxiety. 

Jonas recommends that people start with guided meditation apps like Headspace or Calm. A 2019 study of college students found that using Calm for just 10 minutes per day reduced stress. 

4. Practice biofeedback

Biofeedback is the process of monitoring your body's physical reactions to anxiety in order to better regulate them. 

For example, you might notice that your heart is racing when you're feeling anxious. Then, you can monitor your heart rate while taking deep breaths, and watch as your heart lowers during that relaxation technique."Biofeedback can help us regulate our breath, reduce muscle tension, and increase heart rate variability, which are all correlated with decreased levels of anxiety," says Jonas. A 2015 study of nursing students found that practicing biofeedback reduced their reported anxiety levels over a period of four weeks. Jonas recommends apps like Resility Personal Biofeedback or Elite HRV to help you get started. 

5. Eat healthy and avoid substances 

What you put in your body affects how you feel, for better or for worse. Here's what to eat and what to avoid to improve your mood:

  • Avoid fat, sugar, and carbs: Research has found that a diet high in fat, sugar, and refined carbohydrates may increase the risk of anxiety. 
  • Eat whole foods: On the other hand, eating a diet rich in natural, wholesome foods like fruits, vegetables, and legumes, while avoiding sugary snacks, can help control anxiety and boost your mood
  • Try fermented foods: Eating fermented foods may also have benefits for people with anxiety. A 2015 study found that people with high neuroticism — a tendency to experience negative emotions —  who ate more fermented foods had fewer symptoms of social anxiety
  • Add omega-3s to your diet: Another study found that omega-3 fatty acids, commonly found in fish like salmon and sardines, reduced anxiety in medical students. 
  • Avoid alcohol: Many people with anxiety get temporary relief from symptoms when they drink, but experience increased symptoms when they stop drinking. That leads some people with anxiety to drink even more. For example, social anxiety disorder is closely linked to alcohol use disorder, according to a 2019 twin study

6. Try supplements like magnesium

Magnesium is a mineral supplement that has been shown to decrease anxiety. For example, a 2017 review of 18 studies found that people who took magnesium supplements reported decreased feelings of anxiety. "Magnesium has muscle-relaxing effects on the body and anxiolytic [anxiety reducing] effects on the brain," Jonas says. According to Jonas, magnesium is relatively safe and well-tolerated by most people — she recommends starting with a dose of 500 to 800 milligrams, taken at bedtime.

7. Reduce caffeine 

Caffeine elevates the heart rate and blood pressure, which can make you feel more alert and focused. However, if you experience anxiety, these same side effects can also trigger alarm signals in your body that may elevate your anxiety, says Moe Gelbart, PhD, director of behavioural health at Torrance Memorial Medical Center.That's why anxiety is a recognised side effect of caffeine. But how much is too much? About 400 mg of caffeine a day can increase your anxiety. That's about the amount found in four 8-ounce cups of brewed coffee.

8. Breathe slowly and deeply

Taking slow, deep breaths is associated with a sense of calm and reduced anxiety. Breathing in a slow, deep, controlled manner helps the body relax, which is critical for fighting the physical tension that comes up in response to anxiety, Gelbart says. Taking slow deep breaths activates the body's parasympathetic nervous system, which is responsible for relaxation and calm. That can help quell anxiety, Gelbart says. Gelbart recommends using an app to guide your breathwork in order to reduce anxiety.Belly breathing is one type of slow, deep breathing that can help interrupt anxiety. To try it, sit or lie in a comfortable position, with one hand on your stomach and one on your chest. Breath in through your nose, watching the hand on your belly rise. The hand on your chest shouldn't move.After you've pushed the belly hand out as far as you can, slowly exhale through your mouth with your lips pursed, watching the belly hand fall. Repeat that 3-10 times, or until you feel calmer. 

9. Try yoga

Study after study has found that yoga can reduce anxiety. That's because yoga combines two important anxiety-busting tools: physical exercise and breathwork that leads to relaxation. Both of these have independently been linked to reductions in anxiety levels; together, they're even more powerful. Yoga challenges participants to exercise, while also slowing their breathing, which can activate the parasympathetic nervous system. Yoga can improve mood and anxiety more than walking at a pace that burns a similar amount of calories, one small 2010 study found. Participants in the study were assigned to either walk or do a yoga routine for 60 minutes, three times a week. Those who did yoga had fewer symptoms of anxiety, the researchers found. 

10. Get outside

Spending time outdoors can help calm anxiety in many ways, Gelbart says. First, there's a good chance that while you're outside, you're exercising, which studies have linked to calming anxiety

In addition to getting your body moving, being outside can calm your mind, but connecting you on the spiritual or emotional level to something larger than yourself – mother nature, Gelbart says. 

"Being out in nature, which is calming and relaxing, allows one to alter their perceptions and priorities of things," he says. This can make your worries seem less significant.

One study found that people who grow up with limited access to green spaces have up to a 55% increased risk for developing mental health conditions like anxiety disorders. If you can't get to green space, even mimicking one can help: Research has shown that listening to nature sounds can reduce anxiety in hospital patients. 

11. Journal 

Keeping a journal every day can help interrupt the cycle of anxiety in two different ways, Gelbart says. 

One great practice is to keep a gratitude journal, where you list a few things that you are grateful for every day. A 2021 study found that practicing gratitude can have a "modest" impact on reducing feelings of anxiety. 

"It's not directly related to anxiety, but feeling good and happy begins to reduce anxiety over time," Gelbart says. 

Another approach to journaling is to write down your fears or worries. This can help you recognise your thought patterns in order to challenge or interrupt them, Gelbart says. 

A 2018 study found that people who journaled about their emotions for 15 minutes 3 days per week for 12 weeks had improved wellness and less anxiety compared to a control group. 

12. Laugh 

It might be hard to laugh when you're feeling anxious, and that's just the point — laughter and humour interrupt the cycle of anxiety. 

Even if the relief is only momentary, research has shown that laughter can boost psychological well-being. The key is that you have to be genuinely laughing — self-induced laughter doesn't have the same impact as spontaneous laughter. So, if you feel anxiety creeping in, pull up your favourite comedic videos and let your laughter loose. 

13. Try aromatherapy

When you're feeling anxious, it may be helpful to add a few drops of your favourite essential oil to a diffuser. Though the research is still controversial and the results are mixed, some studies and analyses have found that essential oils may reduce anxiety, at least temporarily. Some essential oils that may provide relief include:

Lavender

According to a 2017 review, lavender essential oil may be able to help calm your anxiety. However, a 2019 review points out that many of the studies looking at lavender's effect on anxiety are low quality. Regardless, if you like its scent and find that it increases your well-being, you may want to keep it in your anti-anxiety toolbox.

Peppermint

Peppermint oil is known for its ability to soothe tension headaches. But it may also be able to reduce anxiety. In one small 2022 study of hospital patients with acute coronary syndrome, inhaling peppermint oil was associated with decreased anxiety. Another small 2017 study found that inhaling peppermint oil also soothed anxiety in patients who were about to undergo colonoscopies. 

Citrus

Citrus oils including sweet orange, bergamot, and orange essence could have mood-boosting effects. According to a 2020 review, several small human studies have found that inhaling sweet orange oil helps lower levels of anxiety and increase feelings of relaxation and calmness. The same review cited several small studies that found similar results from bergamot essential oil, including one small 2015 study where it decreased levels of salivary cortisol (the stress hormone) in healthy women.Other essential oils that may help anxiety include clary sage, chamomile, lemon, and geranium. Try adding a few drops to an essential oil diffuser, or something absorbent like a cotton ball, and placing it nearby.

14. Repeat a positive affirmation

When you notice yourself feeling anxious, try repeating a mantra or affirmation such as "I am safe" or "I am calm."

Mantra repetition is a staple of transcendental meditation, which is associated with a reduction in stress and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) symptoms. While transcendental meditation is centered around a specific mantra assigned to you by an instructor, you can still gain benefits from coming up with your own mantra or positive affirmation.

Here's what the research says:

  • In one small 2015 study, repeating a one-word mantra reduced activity in the brain, which, for people who suffer from racing thoughts or ruminations, could be useful for calming anxiety.
  • According to a 2022 review, various forms of mantra meditation were associated with a "small-to-moderate" reduction in anxiety, stress, and depression.
  • In a small 2016 study of female heart disease patients, using positive affirmations caused a significant decrease in stress, anxiety, and depression. 

Some examples of positive affirmations that you can try include:

  • "I trust myself"
  • "I am relaxed and at peace"
  • "My life is a gift"
  • "I have faith in my abilities"

15. Take a social media break

Social media has both positive and negative effects on mental health. 

While it can help foster a sense of community and acceptance with people online, it can also cause you to engage in detrimental habits like doomscrolling, a word that describes an obsession with scrolling through social media and news sites. This exposure to the 24-hour news cycle can be mentally taxing and damaging to your mental health.

If you think social media is contributing to your anxiety, it can be beneficial to log out, even for a short amount of time.

In fact, a 2022 study found that a one-week break from social media was enough to improve well-being and reduce depression and anxiety.

16. Spend time with loved ones

Combat loneliness and boost your mood by spending time with a loved one, whether they're a human or an animal.  Spending time with a pet comes with many benefits. For example, having a dog can help combat loneliness, help PTSD symptoms, and help you be more mindful. When you're feeling anxious, try gazing into your dog's eyes. A 2009 study found that doing so increased oxytocin levels. This hormone is associated with relationship building, physical affection, and a sense of safety.

Nurturing your human relationships can also prove beneficial in improving your mental health. Friendships are associated with reduced loneliness and improved happiness and self-esteem. When you're feeling anxious, it can help to talk to a friend or family member who can offer a different perspective or talk about a similar experience.

17. Brew some tea

Taking a quiet moment during the day to brew a cup of tea can be a beneficial mindfulness practice. But what's in the cup may also help induce calm, relaxed feelings.Here are some of the best teas to drink to ease anxiety:

  • Lavender: In a small 2020 study focusing on elderly individuals, drinking lavender tea twice a day reduced feelings of depression and anxiety among participants.
  • Green: Though it might seem counterintuitive to drink caffeine when you're feeling anxious, green tea could prove itself an exception. It contains an amino acid called L-theanine, which counteracts the increased blood pressure and general jitteriness associated with caffeine. It also has relaxation and anti-anxiety effects, according to a 2022 review. If you suffer from morning anxiety, try replacing coffee with a cup of green tea.
  • Chamomile: Chamomile tea contains a flavonoid called apigenin, which has similar effects in the brain as benzodiazepines, a type of anti-anxiety drug. Sipping on chamomile tea can promote relaxation, sleep, and a sense of calm.

Insider's takeaway 

Calming anxiety is part of navigating the human experience, Gelbart says. "Everyone has anxious moments," he said. Oftentimes, those moments can be managed by addressing the physical and mental symptoms of anxiety. Deep breaths might slow your heart rate (interrupting physical symptoms), while laughter can distract you (interrupting mental symptoms like spiraling thoughts).However, if your anxiety begins interfering with your ability to go about your daily activities, it's time to seek professional treatment, which might involve counseling, medication, or both. "There is a difference between anxiety, which we all feel, and anxiety disorders, which become dysfunctional and make life difficult," Gelbart says. If you think you might have an anxiety disorder, "it's important to make an intervention so you can live life."

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Asthma Awareness Month: What to do in case of an asthma attack; steps to follow

Here are some home remedies that one can follow in case of asthma attack, suggested by Dr Harish Chafle.

Sit up straight: Sitting up straight will help to open the airways, making it easier for air to move through the lungs. Remaining calm is essential. The body’s natural stress response, sometimes called “fight or flight” mode, can make symptoms worse.

Breathing exercises: The purpose of these exercises is to reduce the number of breaths, keeping the airways open longer and making it easier to breathe.

Pursed lip breathing

– Breathe in through the nose.

– Breathe out through pursed lips. The exhale should be at least twice as long as the inhale.

Belly breathing

– Breathe in through the nose with hands placed on the belly.

– With relaxed neck and shoulders, breathe out. The exhale should last two or three times longer than the inhale.

Don’t fall for internet tricks

Many emergency home remedies are suggested on the internet. However, these are usually not supported by scientific evidence.

Source: featuredtimes.com/asthma-awareness-month-what-to-do-in-case-of-an-asthma-attack-steps-to-follow/

#pursedlipbreathing #breathingexercise

Pursed Lip Breathing for COPD

This is one of the most effective breathing techniques for COPD sufferers. It can help relax the airways as COPD remedies, like Trelegy Ellipta, do, and relieves the anxiety associated with shortness of breath.

Here’s how to do it:

  • Inhale for two seconds, keeping your mouth closed
  • Purse your lips as if you’re about to whistle or blow
  • Keeping your lips pursed, breathe out for four seconds

You can also use this exercise for coordinated breathing during exertion. For instance, if you’re lifting a dumbbell, start by breathing in and then breathe out when you lift the weight.

Deep Breathing Exercises for COPD

Deep breathing eliminates stale air from the lungs, so you don’t feel short of breath. Try this technique to draw in more fresh air with every breath:

  • Stand or sit with your elbows slightly behind you
  • Take a deep breath through your nose
  • Hold your breath and count to five
  • Release the air slowly and deeply through your nose

To make the most of this breathing treatment for COPD, combine it with other breathing exercises.

Diaphragmatic Breathing Techniques

This type of belly breathing strengthens one of the most important muscles for breathing – the diaphragm. It’s another excellent way to get rid of stale air.

Many COPD sufferers use their back, shoulder, and neck muscles to force air in and out of the lungs. This exercise will teach you the correct way to breathe.

Here’s how to do it:

  • Lie on your back on a flat surface with your knees bent
  • Place one hand beneath your ribs and one over your breastbone
  • Breath in through your nose, deeply and slowly
  • Tense the muscles below your ribs
  • Push in and up with your lower hand at the same time
  • Breathe out slowly through pursed lips
  • Repeat the exercise for five minutes three times daily.

You may feel tired after your first session of diaphragmatic breathing, but you can increase the number and duration of sessions as your diaphragm becomes stronger.

Breathe Easier

To get the best benefit from these breathing exercises for COPD, you should do them for ten minutes at a time, three or four times daily. After a while, they’ll become second nature.

While these exercises won’t cure your COPD, they will help you to learn techniques that make breathing easier and strengthen the muscles you need to breathe effectively.

Would you like to explore more useful health tips? Bookmark our site and check back regularly for interesting articles on a wide range of topics.

Source: insopra.com/2022/05/16/breathing-exercises-for-copd-patients/

#pursedlipbreathing #breathingexercise

Pursed lip breathing

- Breathe in through the nose.

- Breathe out through pursed lips. The exhale should be at least twice as long as the inhale.

Belly breathing

- Breathe in through the nose with hands placed on the belly.

- With relaxed neck and shoulders, breathe out. The exhale should last two or three times longer than the inhale.

Source: www.hindustantimes.com/lifestyle/health/asthma-awareness-month-what-to-do-in-case-of-an-asthma-attack-steps-to-follow-101651750037743-amp.html

#pursedlipbreathing #breathingexercise

Stress is something that everyone deals with from time to time. Whether you’re stressed out at work or dealing with family issues, learning how to relax can be helpful. It has been proven that breathing exercises can relieve stress and anxiety levels and improve overall health. The key is to practice them regularly. Breathing exercises help us to cope with stressful situations and boost our self-confidence. They also improve concentration, memory retention, and even mood.

Rapid breathing can cause a quicker heart rate, dizziness, muscular tension, and other symptoms during a panic attack. These sensations may then add to increased anxiety. This thoracic (chest) breathing varies from diaphragmatic breathing, an abdominal rhythm that occurs when people are calm or asleep. Stress, especially among Americans is rising rapidly too.

This article explains how changing your breathing pattern consciously may help you regulate your stress and anxiety. 

Symptoms of a Panic Attack

The symptoms of panic attacks vary from individual to individual.  Among the most prevalent symptoms are:

  • Tension, nervousness, or dread
  • Oxygen deprivation, often known as quick breathing
  • Insomnia, or the inability to sleep
  • agitation or restlessness
  • trembling and/or sweating
  • Concerned about the past or the future

Top 10 ways to relieve stress with exercise

Inhale deeply. Now let it all out. You may have already noticed a difference in how you feel. Your breath is a wonderful tool for relieving tension and making you feel the least nervous. If you include these easy breathing exercises in your daily practice, they can make a significant impact and relieve stress and anxiety.

Before you begin, keep the following suggestions in mind:

  • Select a location for your breathing workout. It might be in your bed, on the floor of your living room, or in a comfy chair.
  • Don’t push it. This might exacerbate your tension.
  • Try to perform it once or twice a day at the same time.
  • Put on something comfy.

Diaphragmatic Breathing

The diaphragm is the dome-shaped muscle utilized in breathing that is placed directly beneath the lungs. This is one of the best ways to relieve stress and anxiety. Diaphragmatic breathing, also known as belly breathing or abdominal breathing, develops this muscle, and this deep breathing method fills the entire lungs with air.

Here is how it’s done:

  • Place one hand on the stomach and the other on the chest.
  • Inhale for 3-5 seconds via your nose, feeling your abdomen rise as you breathe in. The hand on the chest should not move.
  • Exhale through the nose for 3-5 seconds, feeling the belly return to its natural position.
  • Continue this breathing practice for 5 minutes every day.

Coherent Breathing

The purpose of coherent breathing is to limit the breathing cycle to only five breaths per minute. This breathing pattern lowers heart rate and blood pressure, soothing the nervous system.

  • Inhale via the nose, extending the belly to a count of five.
  • Exhale to a count of 6 without halting at the peak of the inhalation.
  • Repeat at least five times to complete a full minute cycle.
  • If you find it difficult to inhale or exhale for this long, begin with a 3-count and gradually work your way up.

Victory Breath 

In Sanskrit, victory breath is called Ujjayi Breath. It’s also known as ocean breath because the sound generated by closing the throat sounds like waves smashing on the coast.

  • Sit up straight, with your spine straight and your hands in your lap.
  • Inhalation through the nose to a count of four, somewhat limiting airflow to the back of the throat on the inhale. If you execute this correctly, you will hear a sound that sounds like waves or light snoring.
  • Pause for a second at the peak of the inhale before beginning the exhale.
  • Strive to keep your throat contracted and exhale gently to a count of six. Pause for a moment before inhaling again.

Straw Breath

This technique includes breathing through a straw to relieve anxiety and fear. If you don’t have a straw, you can pursue your lips on the exhale instead.

  • Make sure you have a straw on hand for the workout.
  • Inhale softly via the nose, filling the abdomen to a count of four.
  • Take a short pause at the peak of the inhalation to insert the straw into your mouth. Alternatively, you can pucker your lips as if you have a straw in your mouth.
  • Exhale slowly and softly through the straw until you reach a count of six.
  • Pause at the bottom of your exhalation and remove the straw.
  • Do this workout for 5 minutes every day.

Box Breathing

Box breathing, sometimes known as square breathing, is a basic breathing exercise that comprises inhaling, exhaling and holding one’s breath. This approach is used by the Navy Seals to relieve tension and anxiety during warfare.

  • Inhale deeply through your nose, extending your belly to a count of four.
  • Hold the breath for a count of four at the peak of the inhale.
  • Exhale via the nostrils for a count of four before releasing the breath.
  • Hold the breath until a count of four at the bottom of the exhale.
  • Repeat 5-10 times.

The Yogic Breath

The three-part breath, also known as yogic breath, is a great grounding method that occupies the full lungs. The belly, ribs, and upper chest are referred to as the three sections of the breath.

  • Sit up straight with your spine straight.
  • Begin by laying your palm on your tummy. Slowly inhale and exhale through your nose into your abdomen, feeling it rise and fall with the breath.
  • Place your palm on your ribcage and slowly inhale and exhale through your nose into the ribcage, noting how the ribs expand with air.
  • Finally, lay your palm on your upper chest and inhale and exhale gently through your nose into the chest cavity, feeling it rise and fall with the breath.
  • Breathe into each location independently until you feel comfortable with each approach.
  • Fill up the belly first, then the ribs, and lastly the chest on the following inhalation. At the apex of the inhale, pause for a second.
  • Reverse the flow on the exhale, releasing the air first from the upper chest, then the ribcage, and finally the belly.
  • Repeat this breathing exercise 5-10 times.

Conclusion:

These are just some of the many ways you can use yoga techniques to help you relax and relieve stress and anxiety. You may find other methods more effective than others, but these should be enough to get started. Check out how Katrina Kaif battled her anxiety during the lockdown.

If you want more such insightful health & lifestyle tips delivered straight to your inbox, subscribe to the monthly Clout Newsletter and never miss an update.

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Introduction
What is deep breathing?
What is relaxation response?
How to perform breathing exercises
References
Further Reading


Deep abdominal breathing helps reduce stress, control emotions, increase attention, and improve overall wellbeing. Deep breathing controls heart rate, blood pressure, and respiratory rate by stimulating the parasympathetic nervous system. By diverting attention from distracting thoughts, it reduces stress and anxiety.

Image Credit: fizkes/Shutterstock.com

Image Credit: fizkes/Shutterstock.com

What is deep breathing?

Breathing slowly and deeply from the abdomen leads to complete replenishment of the lungs with the inhaled air, resulting in full gaseous exchange between incoming oxygen and outgoing carbon dioxide. This process increases the activation of the vagus nerve, which is part of the parasympathetic nervous system.

The activation of the vagus nerve leads to deceleration of the heart rate, stabilization of the blood pressure, relaxation of the muscles, diversion of attention from distracting thoughts and sensations, and induction of relaxation response.

In contrast, fast and shallow breathing from the chest induces a stress response by stimulating the sympathetic nervous system. Evidence suggests that an acute induction in breathing rate may lead to a panic attack. Similarly, chronic breathing problems can induce the level of anxiety and depression.

Reducing Stress Through Deep Breathing (1 of 3)

What is relaxation response?

The term “relaxation response” was first coined by Dr. Herbert Benson, a cardiologist at the Harvard Medical School. The relaxation response is a state of complete physical and mental rest, which is the opposite of stress. The stress response driven by the sympathetic nervous system is a normal physiological response to harmful events as a survival strategy.   

Controlled breathing is one of the best techniques to trigger the relaxation response. Other techniques include body scan (controlled breathing together with muscle relaxation), guided imagery (imagining peaceful events/pictures/situations), mindfulness meditation (controlled breathing and focusing attention on the present moment), yoga, tai chi, and qigong (rhythmic breathing with a series of postures/movements), and repetitive prayers (repeating a short prayer while performing controlled breathing).

A person with a relaxed state of mind usually breathes slowly and deeply. Similarly, intentional practicing of controlled breathing can reduce the functioning of the sympathetic nervous system that regulates involuntary activities of the body, including heart rate and blood pressure.

Controlled breathing can benefit the physiological systems in many ways. It helps reduce heart rate, blood pressure, the level of stress hormones in the blood, and lactic acid accumulation in muscles. In addition, controlled breathing helps balance oxygen and carbon dioxide levels in the blood and improves physical energy level, immune system functions, and overall wellbeing.

Controlled breathing can be performed in a quiet and comfortable place, either in a sitting or lying position. It is performed by taking a deep breath slowly through the nose, allowing the chest and abdomen to expand fully. Afterward, the inhaled air is expelled slowly through the nose or mouth.         

How to perform breathing exercises

There are different ways to perform breathing exercises, including diaphragmatic breathing and paced breathing. The main aim is to shift the focus to abdominal breathing from upper chest breathing.

Diaphragmatic breathing

The diaphragm is a dome-shaped muscle placed at the base of the lungs. It performs about 80% of the work during respiration. During inhalation, the diaphragm moves downward to increase space in the chest cavity, allowing full expansion of the lungs. During exhalation, the diaphragm moves towards the chest cavity to facilitate the outward movement of air.    

Diaphragmatic breathing, also known as belly breathing or abdominal breathing, focuses on achieving a complete exchange of oxygen and carbon dioxide in the lungs. This is vital for maintaining the body’s overall homeostasis. In patients with chronic lung diseases, inhaled air remains trapped in the lungs, pressing the diaphragm downward. This damages the muscle and reduces its working capacity. The strength of the diaphragm can be regained by practicing diaphragmatic breathing.

Image Credit: mbframes/Shutterstock.com

Image Credit: mbframes/Shutterstock.com

Diaphragmatic breathing is performed in a sitting or lying position. To perceive the movement during breathing, one hand can be placed on the upper chest and the other hand just below the rib cage. The air should be inhaled slowly and deeply through the nose towards the lower abdomen. During exhalation, abdominal muscles should be moved inward to help expel the air through pursed lips. The hand on the chest should not move during the entire process, while the hand on the upper abdomen should move up and down.

Paced breathing

Alike other breathing exercises, paced breathing helps maintain the balance between respiratory and cardiac systems. In this breathing technique, the duration of exhalation should be longer than the inhalation. If inhalation is performed for a count of 2 – 4 seconds, exhalation should be performed for a count of 4 – 6 seconds.

The air should be inhaled through the nose slowly and deeply, allowing the chest and lower abdomen to expand. During exhalation, air should be released slowly through the mouth.

There is another breathing technique wherein air is inhaled through the nose for a count of 4 and held in the stomach for a count of 4. Afterward, air is released through the mouth for a count of 8. This technique is very helpful in soothing the nervous system and reducing the stress level.        

References

 

Further Reading

 

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Physical activity and rest are both important after a mastectomy or breast reconstruction surgery. Your body is recovering from a serious procedure that requires time, patience, and the right exercise program tailored to your specific needs in order to heal and feel better.

Performing specific exercises after a mastectomy or breast reconstruction can help keep the range of motion in your shoulder and arm, relieve stiffness and pain, and reduce swelling.

Even something as simple as combing or brushing your hair or reaching behind your back to touch under the shoulder blades is considered critical exercise after a surgical procedure.

The important thing is to ease back into exercise gradually to avoid overloading the system. Here, we go over exercise considerations, physical activity in the first week, cardio exercise, and strength training after a mastectomy or breast reconstruction surgery.

Exercising after a mastectomy or breast reconstruction often depends on any restrictions put in place by the surgeon, says Diana Garrett, D.P.T., O.C.S., C.L.T., C.S.C.S. at Saint John’s Cancer Institute.

“Some surgeons prefer only light activity after surgery for two to three weeks, so it’s essential to get clearance from your physician about what you can and cannot do,” she says.

Physical activity also depends on the type of surgery and your overall health. In general, it’s best to avoid vigorous exercises and heavy lifting so that your wounds have a chance to heal, says Constance M. Chen, MD, a board-certified plastic surgeon and breast reconstruction specialist.

“In a healthy person, it takes six to eight weeks for full wound healing to occur,” Dr. Chen says.

Overall, the American Cancer Society recommends starting slowly and only progressing when you are ready (1). They also suggest working with a cancer exercise specialist or physical therapist to make sure you’re doing the exercises properly.

In the first week after mastectomy (with or without breast reconstruction), Dr. Chen says it’s important to walk so that you can move your muscles and get your lungs and legs working again. However, you should avoid vigorous, repetitive movements that prevent wound healing.

Because breast surgery is linked to shoulder and scapular dysfunction, Garrett says it’s essential to regain full mobility after surgery. Some of the top exercises Garrett does with patients the week after mastectomy or reconstruction are:

  • Diaphragmatic breathing (belly breathing): You can practice this several times a day in a seated or prone position. Begin by taking a deep breath while expanding your chest and belly. Relax and then blow it out. Do this about four to six times, several times a day.
  • Shoulder blade pinches: In a seated position, place your arms at your sides with elbows bent. Squeeze your shoulder blades together to bring your elbows behind you. Hold for a few seconds and then return to the starting position. Repeat five times.
  • Arm-assisted raises: Use the non-involved arm to raise the surgical-side arm overhead until a stretch is felt. You can do this several times a day.
  • Elbow openers or elbow winging: You can do this lying on the floor or in bed. Place your hands behind your head. Your elbows will point toward the ceiling. Move the elbows apart and down toward the floor. Do this five to seven times.

In addition to the movements above, the American Cancer Society recommends lying down and raising the surgery-side arm above heart level for 45 minutes to help ease swelling. Aim to do this two to three times a day. You can also open and close your hand 15 to 20 times and bend and straighten the elbow to help ease swelling (1).

Gentle stretching, arm circles, seated side bends, and shoulder rolls are other exercises you can perform in the week after surgery.

All exercises should be pain-free. Garrett says you should feel a stretch, but if there is any pain, do not go as far into the stretch. Aim to do these exercises each day.

Because of suture healing, Garrett says you will likely delay cardiovascular exercise until the surgeon clears you.

According to Chen, if you are healthy and healing well, you should be able to return to cardio exercises two months after surgery. However, you should consult with your surgeon to make sure that this is appropriate for your specific situation.

Walking is an excellent activity to incorporate during the first few months until your doctor gives you the okay to move on to more vigorous cardiovascular exercises.

Cardio exercise guidelines for breast reconstruction are similar to mastectomy. That said, since there is more than one type of breast reconstruction surgery, the exercises you perform will depend on the type of surgery you had. Your surgeon will give you recommendations based on your procedure.

The American Cancer Society recommends adding strength training exercises to your routine about four to six weeks after surgery (1). You can perform exercises with a small set of hand weights or resistance bands.

After your doctor gives you the okay to add strength training exercises to your routine, you’ll want to aim for two days a week, as recommended by the American Cancer Society and the American College of Sports Medicine.

Many times after surgery, Garrett says the pectoral muscles tend to be shortened and tight. While stretching the chest muscles will help, she says it’s also beneficial to strengthen the back muscles and the area between the scapulae.

“Strengthening these muscles will help to improve overall posture and upper body strength,” Garrett says. She recommends using an assortment of resistance bands and dumbbell exercises to target specific muscles such as the rhomboids, latissimus, lower and middle trapezius, and the rotator cuff muscles.

Additionally, Garrett suggests incorporating core strengthening to improve overall postural control.

Strength exercise guidelines for breast reconstruction are similar to mastectomy. However, as mentioned earlier, there is more than one type of breast reconstruction surgery, and the exercises you perform will depend on the type. Your surgeon will give you recommendations based on your procedure.

When performing exercises in the weeks after mastectomy and breast reconstruction surgery, you should only do what’s comfortable for you. This may take some trial and error to determine your pain threshold, but when in doubt, stop if you feel any discomfort.

It’s normal to experience some tightness in your chest and armpit, but the American Cancer Society says this should decrease as you do your exercises (1).

Also, try to perform exercises when your body is warm — like after showering — and make sure to wear loose-fitting clothing that is comfortable.

If you’re exercising on your own and experience any one of the following symptoms, stop what you’re doing and contact your doctor (1).

  • pain that gets worse
  • feeling like you are getting weaker
  • a loss of balance or falling
  • having a new heaviness or aching sensation in your arm
  • unusual swelling that gets worse, or headaches, dizziness, tingling, or blurred vision

Exercising after breast surgery is a critical step in recovery. Make sure to go slow and only do movements that feel comfortable.

Your doctor should provide you with a treatment plan that includes specific exercises to perform immediately and for the first few weeks after surgery.

If possible, ask about working with a physical therapist trained in post-surgery rehab. They can assist you with the exercises, make sure you are doing the moves correctly, and design a long-term fitness routine that supports your recovery. Soon, you’ll be on the path to regain strength and cardiovascular health.

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You shouldn’t replace any prescribed medications for alternative treatments, but certain complementary therapies can help you manage asthma and anxiety.

Breathing exercises are a mainstay of pulmonary rehabilitation techniques for lung diseases such as asthma. By retraining the way you breathe, you may be able to improve overall lung function and subsequent asthma symptoms.

The American Lung Association recommends practicing the following exercises each day, for 5 to 10 minutes at a time:

  • Belly/diaphragmatic breathing. With your hands on your stomach, breathe in and out through your nose. Feel how your stomach rises on the inhalation, and falls on each exhalation. Exhale up to two to three times longer than your inhalation. Keep your shoulders and neck relaxed during the process.
  • Pursed lip breathing. To complete this exercise, breathe in through your nose, and then exhale through your mouth, keeping your lips pursed. As with belly breathing, your exhalation should be at least two times longer than your inhalation.

Source: www.healthline.com/health/asthma/asthma-and-anxiety

#pursedlipbreathing #breathingexercise

Most of us don't pay much attention to our breathing: It's essential to our existence, but we tend to take it for granted. Without us even realizing it, our breathing patterns can change as a natural response to our environment, depending on our health, stress levels and even emotions.

But what happens when we breathe with purpose?

Breathwork has recently become so popular that Gwyneth Paltrow dedicated a whole episode to it on her Netflix series, The Goop Lab. The show highlights various techniques, including breathwork, to overcome mental and physical obstacles. However, breathwork dates back to early Hindu yogic breathing practices known as Pranayama. Prana in Sanskrit translates to "vital life force," while Yama means "to control." 

Modern science shows that breathwork can transform your health, and the best part is that it's something anyone can do anytime, for free. Here's what you should know and how to try it at home.

What is breathwork?

Breathwork is essentially controlled breathing where you intentionally regulate the flow of your breathing patterns to change your mental, emotional and physical state. In every breathing exercise, you will be asked to become aware of your breath and how it makes you feel. Its purpose is to create a balance between the mind and body. There are multiple breathwork techniques that you can try, and each one has a specific effect on your body. 

What are the benefits of breathwork?

If you are looking to incorporate new daily habits to help ease stress, anxiety or improve your overall well-being, breathwork may be what you are looking for. People often practice breathwork exercises to help promote mental, emotional, physical and spiritual well-being

According to one study, breathwork can improve cognitive performance and reduce stress in otherwise healthy adults. The same study found that controlled breathing can potentially help reduce health issues associated with chronic stress. 

Similarly, a systematic review that analyzed eight studies on the effects of breathwork on people with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease concluded that patients with COPD who practiced pursed-lip breathing had better endurance during physical activity.

Slow, paced breathing has been linked to:

  • Improved mood
  • Greater alertness and vigor
  • Increased relaxation
  • Less anxiety and depression
  • Reduced symptoms of anger
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Breathwork techniques for beginners

There are many breathing exercises you can do to help you clear your mind, relax and even improve physical endurance. We've compiled a few of our favorite techniques that are perfect for beginners since they are simple, quick and easy to follow.

The 4-7-8 breath: For when you're feeling stressed

The 4-7-8 breathing pattern was designed by Andrew Weil, M.D., and is known for being the "relaxing breath." It's a simple yet effective technique for de-stressing that consists of inhaling for four counts, holding the breath for seven counts, then exhaling for eight counts. Many people use this particular technique to relieve anxiety and attain better sleep.

Weil states on his website that "practicing a regular, mindful breathing exercise can be calming and energizing and can even help with stress-related health problems ranging from panic attacks to digestive disorders."

How to practice

The first thing you want to do is place the tip of your tongue against the roof of your mouth, right behind your front teeth, and sit in an upright position. 

Then, follow these steps in the cycle of one breath:

1. With your mouth closed, inhale through your nose to a count of four.

2. Hold your breath for seven counts.

3. Exhale through your mouth, making a whooshing sound for eight seconds.

4. Repeat steps one to three for a total of four breath cycles.

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The box breath: For clearing the mind

Box breathing, also called four-square breathing, is an easy yogic technique used to slow down your breathing. This type of breathing exercise is so powerful that people with high-stress jobs, like the military, often use it to maintain calm when their bodies go into "fight-or-flight" mode. Its primary focus is to distract the mind while you count and fill your lungs with oxygen.

Unfortunately, there aren't many studies around the effectiveness of box breathing since it's a relatively new technique, but there are studies that have found that similar breathing exercises help induce tranquility and increase attention span.

How to practice

Box breathing is one of the simplest breathwork techniques and can be done almost anywhere -- at your desk, in your car or even at a busy coworking space. All you need to do is follow these simple steps.

1. Exhale all of the air in your lungs.

2. Inhale for four counts.

3. Hold your breath for another four counts.

4. Exhale for four counts.

5. Repeat three to four times.

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Alternate nostril breath: For optimal respiratory endurance

Alternate nostril breathing, also known as Nadi Shodhana, is another breathwork exercise intended to soothe the mind and body while managing emotions. This breathing exercise is a pretty common practice in yoga and meditation. Nadi Shodhana in Sanskrit means "channel cleaning breathing." As the name suggests, this technique focuses on breathing through one nostril at a time.

A small study conducted in 2017 analyzed the effects of this type of breathing practice on healthy, competitive swimmers. The study concluded that practicing alternate nostril breathing for 30 minutes a day, five days a week for 30 days, helps enhance respiratory endurance. Even though this initial study showed promising results, further research is needed to expand on the long-term effectiveness of alternate nostril breathing.

How to practice

You can practice alternate nostril breathing by yourself. However, consider asking an experienced practitioner to guide you through your first time to ensure that you are doing it correctly. 

First, sit down in a comfortable position with your back upright, then follow these steps:

1. Place your left palm over your lap and bring your right hand in front of your face. 

2. With your right thumb, close your right nostril. If comfortable, you can place your forefinger and middle finger on the center of your forehead.

3. Close your eyes and inhale slowly through your left nostril.

4. Once you've taken a deep inhale, cover your left nostril with your ring finger and hold your breath for a few seconds.

5. Uncover your right nostril and exhale. 

6. Slowly inhale through your right nostril.

7. Cover your right nostril again (your ring finger still closing your left nostril) and hold for a few seconds.

8. Uncover your left nostril and slowly exhale, pausing again at the end of the exhale.

You can repeat these steps for up to five minutes.

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Belly breath: For when you need to relax

Belly breathing, also called diaphragmatic breathing, fully engages your abdominal muscles, diaphragm and lungs. Contrary to normal breathing, diaphragmatic breathing expands the abdomen when inhaling rather than the chest. Our normal breaths tend to be shallow, but with belly breaths, you slowly fill your lungs with air making the breath deeper. 

Belly breathing creates a deep sense of relaxation, and is closely associated with meditation. Research has shown that meditation may reduce blood pressure and ease anxiety, depression, insomnia and chronic pain symptoms.

How to practice

You can practice belly breathing lying down or sitting in a comfortable position.

1. Place your left hand over your heart and your right hand over your belly.

2. Inhale slowly, filling up your belly with air.

3. Purse your lips and exhale slowly, feeling your stomach contract.

4. Repeat up to 10 breath cycles.

Sitting position belly breathing breathwork

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Pursed-lip breathing: For controlling shortness of breath

Pursed-lip breathing is a common technique used to control hyperventilation and shortness of breath. When practicing this breathing technique, you allow yourself to slow your breathing pattern, making each breath deeper. With pursed-lip breathing, you bring more oxygen to your lungs which helps you relax.

A 2021 study found that pursed-lip breathing may alleviate shortness of breath, help you gain control over your breathing and increase your sense of relaxation. More research is needed to conclude the long-term benefits of this breathing exercise.

How to practice

The first thing to do is sit down in a comfortable, upright position and relax your shoulders. Become aware of any tight muscles around the face and release the tongue from the roof of your mouth.

1. With your eyes closed, inhale through your nose for two seconds.

2. Pout your lips as if you are going to blow a whistle.

3. Breathe out through your mouth for four to six counts.

4. Repeat for five to 10 cycles.

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Tips for breathwork beginners

Consult with your health care provider

Breathwork is generally considered to be low risk and safe for most people. However, it's important that you consult your doctor before trying out any new breathwork exercises, especially if you are pregnant or have an autoimmune disease. There is evidence that breathwork could be related to increased heart rate in rheumatoid arthritis and lupus patients.

Research the different types of breathwork exercises

We covered five breathwork techniques that are great for beginners, but there are many others that you can try. Since there are so many methods, classes and even teachers, it's important that you do your research to find the right technique for you.

Find a trusted practitioner near you

After you've decided which breathwork method is best for you, you can look up teachers or practitioners near you or online. Breathwork Alliance is a great resource to use if you are unsure where to start.  

Listen to your body

Once you start incorporating breathwork into your routine, you must become aware of how it makes you feel in different parts of your body. Notice if it makes you feel relaxed, or perhaps, notice pain somewhere you hadn't experienced before. If you have an adverse reaction, pause your practice and consult your doctor.

There are many benefits associated with breathwork techniques, and a big part of that is letting go of any tension you may be holding in your body. Let yourself feel everything and enjoy the process.

The information contained in this article is for educational and informational purposes only and is not intended as health or medical advice. Always consult a physician or other qualified health provider regarding any questions you may have about a medical condition or health objectives.

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Many people suffer from asthma and frequently rely on traditional therapies that focus on utilizing medicine to ease symptoms after an episode has begun. However, avoiding the triggers that cause asthma is frequently the best way to deal with your asthma. Using a natural technique of prevention in conjunction with a traditional treatment may be the key to alleviating asthma symptoms in general.

Try these five natural ways to ease asthma symptoms.

  1. Know your triggers

Most asthma patients also have allergies, and common allergens such as pollen, dust mites, and pet dander can aggravate your asthma symptoms if you are sensitive to them. Take note of what triggers your allergies and avoid them.

  1. Practice your breathing

Breathing exercises can improve the performance of your lungs and one such method is to breathe with your lips purse. Breathe in gently via your nose, then exhale slowly through pursed lips. Another beneficial technique is diaphragmatic breathing, commonly known as belly breathing. If you want assistance with any of these speak to your doctor.

  1. Exercise

While exercise can help strengthen your lungs, it can also be an asthma trigger, especially in cold weather. Before beginning a new workout routine, consult with your doctor regarding taking medicine. Also, remember to take it slowly at first; walk, then jog, then run. Keep an eye on the weather; if it's cold outside, work out inside.

  1. Use more spices

Garlic and ginger are both anti-inflammatory chemicals and may help alleviate your asthma symptoms. Fresh garlic cloves or ginger roots can be steeped in boiling water and drunk as tea, or you can simply use these spices more frequently in your cooking.

  1. Take a steam bath

Asthmatics find warm air calming. As a result, a steam bath in your shower at home can help clear away mucus that can make it difficult to breathe. Be cautious; some people find that heat aggravates their asthma, so it's crucial to understand your unique triggers.



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One of the most common issues for new users of any SCBA system is SCBA claustrophobia. The unfamiliar sensation of a mask covering one’s face can make people feel as though their entire body is confined in a small space, even when they can see that they aren’t confined. This intense feeling can be made worse—even debilitating—during low-visibility training. People also might identify with the experience of feeling as though they are “breathing through a straw” when they exert a great deal of physical energy.

The truth is many experienced firefighters operate with mild to moderate anxiety while they wear SCBA.

The anxiety that’s caused by SCBA claustrophobia increases a person’s heart rate and respiratory drive, which throws off such an individual’s body’s natural homeostasis. Although there are numerous strategies to address this stress, the following two popular and well-researched breathing techniques often are used in stress and resiliency training inside and outside of the fire service. Once mastered, these techniques can be used while operating in an immediately dangerous to life and health environment to quickly reorient to the task at hand.

Breathing techniques

Box breathing is used by Navy SEALs during Basic Underwater Demolition/SEAL (BUD/S) training. The technique has been shown to decrease blood pressure, heart rate and respiratory rate. Box breathing also reverts one’s brain back into to the parasympathetic nervous system and out of the body’s fight-or-flight response to wearing the SCBA.

The basic idea of box breathing is inhaling for three seconds, holding your breath for three seconds, exhaling for three seconds and holding your breath for three seconds again before you start the cycle over, creating “the box.”

Box breathing can be used intentionally at the beginning of an operation to start your breath off on the right path. You then can call your focus back to “the box” periodically, keeping your anxiety at a workable level.

Another technique is belly breathing. This technique’s advantage is that the breath comes from below the chest and shoulder straps of the SCBA. This allows SCBA to be used without adding the feeling of tightness to your chest. Marine Corps snipers use this technique to lower their heart rate when they focus on a target.

To belly breathe, focus on pushing your stomach out during your inhale. Then, allow your stomach to return to normal during your exhale. This technique can be used quickly to shift focus onto your breath and away from your anxiety, reorienting yourself to your environment and your task.

Stress inoculation

Overcoming your discomfort with SCBA involves putting yourself in stressful situations while operating with your SCBA and practicing your new breathing techniques. The simple act of wearing a pack in full gear while engaging in any physical activity puts stress on your body and mind, particularly if you have anxiety from the outset. You can add other physical stress slowly and decrease your visibility while being on air to continue to build your skills and to become more comfortable. This inoculation is best done over time with the guidance of mentors and the eventual use of SCBA confidence courses.

While building up to this point, there is an easy exercise to add effective discomfort without being confined in an SCBA confidence trailer. I originally saw this method demonstrated in a lecture by stress-induced-anxiety-management expert Ric Jorge. Since then, I personally saw how it can be successfully applied to the issue of SCBA claustrophobia. Remember, while adding this discomfort, practice focusing on your breath with box breathing or belly breathing.

Begin by doing 10–20 pushups (or however many that you need to start to raise your pulse and respiratory drive). Then, lie on your stomach and focus on your breathing using one of the previously described techniques. This seems like a simple task, but often, just the weight of the SCBA can make it feel as though you’re trapped.

Remember, if it becomes too much, you can roll over or just stand up.

Start off doing this drill without turnouts, progressing into wearing your gear and then decreasing visibility with a mask insert. Challenge yourself by being able to lie in the prone position after the pushups for longer periods of time or by adding more physical exertion prior to the exercise.

After consistent use of this exercise, you should be able to start tackling drills and confidence courses with ease.

Don’t give up

One of the most effective drivers of success in the fire service is having a success-based mindset. In regard to SCBA claustrophobia, you must believe that you will decrease your anxiety; you must believe that you will become proficient in the use of your SCBA.

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Asthma attack can be quite scary as a person struggles to breath, feels chest pain, tightness with coughing and wheezing. The chronic condition can cause the airways in the lungs to become inflamed which can make it difficult to move air in and out. Watching your loved one go through this extreme discomfort can be difficult but one must act quickly in case of an asthma attack if the symptoms don't get better after taking medication. Apart from contacting your doctor or rushing the person to a hospital emergency right away Dr Harish Chafle, Senior Consultant - Pulmonology and Critical Care at Global Hospital, Parel, Mumbai suggests the following steps that must be taken before an ambulance arrives. (Also read: World Asthma Day 2022: Pollution to Covid; common triggers of asthma as per experts)

How to give asthma first aid

• Make them sit upright comfortably and loosen tight clothing.

• If the person has asthma medication, such as an inhaler, help them take it.

• If the person doesn’t have an inhaler, use one from a first aid kit. Do not borrow someone else’s. The medicine in it may be different than the needed rescue medicine. Also, using someone else's inhaler has a slight risk of passing on an infection.

Use an inhaler with a spacer, if possible

• Remove the cap and shake the inhaler well.

• Insert the inhaler into the spacer.

• Have the person breathe out completely and put their mouth tightly around the spacer mouthpiece.

• Press the inhaler once to deliver a puff.

• Have the person breathe in slowly through their mouth and hold their breath for 10 seconds.

• Give a total of four puffs, waiting about a minute between each puff.

Use an inhaler without a spacer, if necessary.

• Remove the inhaler cap and shake well.

• Have the person breathe out all the way and seal their lips tightly around the inhaler mouthpiece.

• As the person starts to breathe in slowly, press down on the inhaler one time.

• The person should keep breathing in as slowly and deeply as possible (about 5 to 7 seconds) and then hold their breath for 10 seconds.

• Give a total of four puffs, waiting about 1 minute between each puff.

Continue using the inhaler if breathing is still a problem.

• After four puffs, wait 4 minutes. If the person still has trouble breathing, give another set of four puffs.

• If there’s still little or no improvement, give four to eight puffs every 20 minutes until the ambulance arrives, for up to 4 hours. If you are still waiting for help after 4 hours, the recommended dose is four to eight puffs as needed every 1 to 4 hours.

Monitor the person until help arrives.

• Do not mistake drowsiness as a sign of improvement; it could mean asthma is getting worse.

• Do not assume that the person’s asthma is improving if you no longer hear wheezing.

Follow up.

• An emergency room doctor will check the severity of the attack and give treatment, including medications.

• The person may be sent home or stay in the hospital for further care, depending on their response to treatment.

HOME REMEDIES

Here are some home remedies that one can follow in case of asthma attack, suggested by Dr Harish Chafle.

Sit up straight: Sitting up straight will help to open the airways, making it easier for air to move through the lungs. Remaining calm is essential. The body’s natural stress response, sometimes called “fight or flight” mode, can make symptoms worse.

Breathing exercises: The purpose of these exercises is to reduce the number of breaths, keeping the airways open longer and making it easier to breathe.

Pursed lip breathing

- Breathe in through the nose.

- Breathe out through pursed lips. The exhale should be at least twice as long as the inhale.

Belly breathing

- Breathe in through the nose with hands placed on the belly.

- With relaxed neck and shoulders, breathe out. The exhale should last two or three times longer than the inhale.

Don't fall for internet tricks

Many emergency home remedies are suggested on the internet. However, these are usually not supported by scientific evidence.

Examples include:

• Caffeine: Some suggest that caffeine can help to treat asthma, because it is closely related to an older drug. A review of the available evidence in 2001 found that caffeine appeared to modestly improve lung function for up to 4 hours. The authors concluded that a person may need to avoid caffeine before a lung function test. There is no evidence that it helps with an acute asthma attack.

• Eucalyptus oil: Some researchers have suggested that that inhaling eucalyptus oil may help to ease symptoms of asthma. However, no studies have considered the effectiveness during an attack. Keep in mind that eucalyptus may instead trigger asthma symptoms in some people.

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Your diaphragm is a muscle that sits at the bottom of your lungs to help you breathe deeply. During normal inhalation, your diaphragm tightens and moves downward. During normal exhalation, the diaphragm relaxes and moves upward in the chest cavity. 

Diaphragmatic breathing—also known as "belly breathing"—is a technique that improves the amount of oxygen that enters your blood from your lungs with each breath. Diaphragmatic breathing reduces your body's stress response, making you feel more relaxed.

This article discusses what diaphragmatic breathing is, how to perform it, and tips for getting started.

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What Is Diaphragmatic Breathing?

Diaphragmatic breathing teaches you to breathe deeper into your belly, rather than taking shallow breaths in your chest. When you breathe in, your lungs need to expand to fully fill with air to bring oxygen into your body. As you breathe out, your body gets rid of a waste product called carbon dioxide.

Shallow breathing in your chest limits the amount that your lungs can stretch when you breathe in and prevents you from breathing out all of the stale air in your lungs. This type of breathing often occurs when you are under stress.

Your body's sympathetic nervous system triggers a "fight or flight" response when you are stressed to help you react to a perceived danger. Diaphragmatic breathing activates a different part of your nervous system, called the parasympathetic nervous system, which has the opposite effect.

Is It Effective?

Diaphragmatic breathing has been shown to reduce symptoms of anxiety, depression, and stress. This technique also helps to decrease blood pressure, improve lung function, increase alertness, and decrease the production of stress hormones in your body.

How to Perform Diaphragmatic Breathing

Proper diaphragmatic breathing can take some time to learn. In the beginning, practice diaphragmatic breathing laying down. Once you've mastered the technique, you can do it just about anywhere.

  1. Lay on your back on a firm, comfortable surface.
  2. Bend your knees and put your feet flat on the surface.
  3. Place one hand on your chest and the other on your belly, below your ribs.
  4. Breathe in slowly through your nose. Picture your belly filling with air, from the bottom up. Watch your hands as you breathe—only the hand on your belly should rise.
  5. Purse your lips as if you are blowing out candles and slowly breathe out. Your belly should deflate.

Diaphragmatic Breathing Exercises

Once you've mastered basic diaphragmatic breathing, try these variations.

4-7-8 Breathing (Numbered Breathing)

  1. Sit up straight in a comfortable position.
  2. Breathe in slowly through your nose as you count to four.
  3. Hold your breath as you count to seven.
  4. Breathe out through your mouth as you slowly count to eight.

Box Breathing

  1. Sit up straight and close your eyes.
  2. Breathe in as you slowly count to four.
  3. Hold your breath for another slow count to four.
  4. Breathe out slowly as you count to four.
  5. Pause for another count of four before taking another breath in.
  6. Repeat three to four times.

Progressive Muscle Relaxation

  1. Find a quiet environment.
  2. Lie down on a firm but comfortable surface and close your eyes.
  3. Tense the muscles in your hands as you slowly take a deep breath in.
  4. Relax your hands as you breathe out.
  5. Tighten the muscles in your forearms and wrists with the next breath.
  6. Relax these muscles as you breathe out.
  7. Continue this process, working your way up to your arms, neck, and face, then work your way down your legs.

Progressive muscle relaxation can also be performed using an audio recording to walk you through the steps.

Tips for Getting Started

While you're learning how to do a diaphragmatic breathing exercise, set aside five to 10 minutes several times per day for practice. Once you've got the technique down, find ways to incorporate it into your daily schedule.

Be patient—diaphragmatic breathing takes practice and in the beginning it's even more difficult to do it correctly, especially if you're already stressed.

Summary

Diaphragmatic breathing, or belly breathing, is a deep breathing technique. This type of breathing increases the amount of oxygen delivered from your lungs to your blood. Diaphragmatic breathing triggers a response in your body that can decrease stress and lower blood pressure.

A Word From Verywell

Diaphragmatic breathing is a stress management tool that can be performed virtually anywhere, once you've mastered the basic technique. In the beginning, you might need to schedule deep breathing practice sessions. However, over time, deep breathing can become second nature.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • Is diaphragmatic breathing better than other breathing techniques?

    Diaphragmatic breathing is better than shallow "chest breathing" that often occurs when a person is under stress.

  • How often should I practice diaphragmatic breathing?

    Ideally, you should incorporate diaphragmatic breathing throughout your day. Practice sessions only need to last a few minutes at a time.

  • What are the symptoms of a weak diaphragm?

    Diaphragm weakness can cause shortness of breath at rest and with activity. You might also feel tired most of the time and have difficulty sleeping.

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Asthma and anxiety are both considered chronic (long-term) conditions. Asthma involves inflammation and constriction of the airways, while anxiety disorders cause excessive worries and fears.

Anxiety is technically a mental health condition, but it often causes physical symptoms as well, including breathing difficulties. On the other hand, if you have asthma, it’s possible to experience anxiety about your ability to breathe normally.

In this article, we cover the symptoms of asthma and anxiety, including their key similarities and differences, and what you can do to help manage them both.

When you have asthma, your airways (bronchial tubes) can become inflamed. If you encounter triggers, such as allergens, exercise, or temperature changes, your airways become even more inflamed, making them tighten. This makes it hard to breathe, causing symptoms such as:

Asthma symptoms can also be worse at night, causing you to wake up frequently. Medications for asthma may also cause insomnia.

Anxiety, on the other hand, is a mental health condition. Unlike occasional worries or fears, an anxiety disorder may cause a wide range of physical symptoms as well.

There are several types of anxiety disorders. Generalized anxiety disorder (GAD) is the most common. With GAD, you may experience the following symptoms on most days for 6 months or longer:

  • difficulty controlling fears and worries
  • concentration difficulties
  • restlessness and fatigue
  • insomnia
  • irritability
  • muscle tension

If you have an anxiety (or panic) attack, it’s also possible to experience breathing difficulties. Panic disorders may also cause shortness of breath and choking sensations.

Below is a quick chart to help you determine the key similarities and differences between asthma and anxiety:

While asthma and anxiety are two separate conditions, it’s possible to have both at the same time. A flareup of one condition may also exacerbate the other.

Anxiety-induced asthma

There are numerous possible asthma triggers, including strong emotions such as stress and anxiety. Such strong emotions can change your breathing patterns — with or without asthma. You may even start experiencing faster breathing or breathlessness.

When you do have asthma, any worries, fears, or anger that may be associated with an anxiety attack could trigger breathing problems. You may find that calming breathing techniques, as well as anxiety treatments, could help improve your asthma symptoms over time.

How asthma induces anxiety

On the other hand, asthma may sometimes worsen anxiety symptoms. This may be especially true if you have severe, uncontrolled asthma that’s difficult to manage.

Severe asthma may significantly impact your quality of life. This can cause more anxiety over missing work, school, and regular activities. Such unpredictability in your asthma management may also lead to increased fears and worries over traveling too far from your home and medical equipment.

Additionally, research shows that some people living with asthma may experience limited coping strategies and unhelpful thinking patterns, which may induce anxiety symptoms. Managing mild and moderate asthma may also lead to better anxiety outcomes.

Without treatment and management, anxiety may lead to poor asthma control, and asthma may increase your symptoms of anxiety. It’s important to recognize the differences, while also getting treatments that can help you manage each condition.

Medical treatments for asthma and anxiety

Asthma and anxiety treatments involve different medications. Depending on your own situation, you may need multiple treatments to help you manage your condition(s).

Asthma may be treated with:

Anxiety is treated with a combination of:

Other treatments

You shouldn’t replace any prescribed medications for alternative treatments, but certain complementary therapies can help you manage asthma and anxiety.

Breathing exercises are a mainstay of pulmonary rehabilitation techniques for lung diseases such as asthma. By retraining the way you breathe, you may be able to improve overall lung function and subsequent asthma symptoms.

The American Lung Association recommends practicing the following exercises each day, for 5 to 10 minutes at a time:

  • Belly/diaphragmatic breathing. With your hands on your stomach, breathe in and out through your nose. Feel how your stomach rises on the inhalation, and falls on each exhalation. Exhale up to two to three times longer than your inhalation. Keep your shoulders and neck relaxed during the process.
  • Pursed lip breathing. To complete this exercise, breathe in through your nose, and then exhale through your mouth, keeping your lips pursed. As with belly breathing, your exhalation should be at least two times longer than your inhalation.

Mindful breathing patterns may also help you see improvements in anxiety-induced asthma. If you feel anxiety or stress coming on, consider a 7-7-7 breathing technique, where you:

  1. Inhale for 7 counts (seconds).
  2. Hold your breath for 7 seconds.
  3. Exhale for another 7.

Regular exercise, rest, and a healthy diet may also improve anxiety-induced asthma.

Aerobic exercise may be particularly helpful for anxiety symptoms, but it’s important to choose activities that won’t exacerbate your asthma. Some of the best choices for exercise-induced asthma (EIA) include swimming, walking, and biking.

Asthma and anxiety are both common comorbidities, with each one potentially exacerbating the other. Still, it’s important to recognize the key differences between these two separate conditions for better management, and so you know when to get treatment.

Anxiety can lead to breathing difficulties, making your asthma symptoms worse. At the same time, uncontrolled asthma symptoms can increase stress about your ability to breathe, possibly leading to long-term anxiety.

If you suspect you have asthma, anxiety, or both, talk with your doctor about your symptoms and a treatment plan that may help you break the asthma-anxiety cycle.

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