Learn Healthy Breathing

Soothe stress, anxiety, and illness with the proper technique

from Stealth Health

Breathe Away Anxiety

Proper breathing is particularly important during moments of great anxiety. At times like these, many people resort to chest breathing — the type of big, desperate inhales and exhales that make you rapidly puff up and deflate your chest, says Michael Crabtree, Ph.D., a professor of psychology at Washington & Jefferson College in Washington, Pennsylvania, and a licensed clinical psychologist.

To regain healthy breathing during periods of anxiety, he says, lie on the floor and place your hand on your chest. Using your hand as a gauge, try to reduce the amount of chest movement, while continuing to breathe normally. You don’t want your chest to move; you want the other parts of your body to take over the breathing — using your diaphragm instead of the big chest inhales and exhales. Do this for five minutes.

Be aware that chest breathing still has a purpose, but only in times of extreme emotional arousal or physical challenge. “Most Americans use chest breathing because of developing instincts from fight-or-flight conditions,” he says. It is in those types of physically dangerous situations that it is still necessary — not for everyday stress or anxiety. Proper breathing is particularly important during moments of great anxiety. At times like these, many people resort to chest breathing — the type of big, desperate inhales and exhales that make you rapidly puff up and deflate your chest, says Michael Crabtree, Ph.D., a professor of psychology at Washington & Jefferson College in Washington, Pennsylvania, and a licensed clinical psychologist.

To regain healthy breathing during periods of anxiety, he says, lie on the floor and place your hand on your chest. Using your hand as a gauge, try to reduce the amount of chest movement, while continuing to breathe normally. You don’t want your chest to move; you want the other parts of your body to take over the breathing — using your diaphragm instead of the big chest inhales and exhales. Do this for five minutes.

Be aware that chest breathing still has a purpose, but only in times of extreme emotional arousal or physical challenge. “Most Americans use chest breathing because of developing instincts from fight-or-flight conditions,” he says. It is in those types of physically dangerous situations that it is still necessary — not for everyday stress or anxiety.

Want to stay smart and healthy?

Get our weekly Health Reads newsletter

Sending Message
how we use your e-mail