Therefore, when you feel anxious, shifting your breathing patterns toward deep, controlled breaths can eventually evoke a sense of calm and happiness, diminishing anxiety.
Simple breathing exercises can even help cure insomnia by placing our bodies and minds into a relaxed, parasympathetic state.
So how does this all work?
When we change our breathing patterns, our heart rate slows and sends signals to the brain that it’s safe to relax. Our vagus nerve becomes stimulated, helping us shift into “rest and digest” mode and exit “fight or flight” mode.
This nerve runs from the brain stem down into the abdomen (which is also where our diaphragm, or major breathing muscle, is located).
How can one begin to integrate deep breathing exercises for anxiety relief? The physiological sigh is a great place to start.
The Physiological Sigh
Do you ever sigh when feeling stressed or anxious?
While sighing may not seem like a breathing exercise at first, it’s actually one of the most effective breathing techniques for bringing down stress.
There’s a neurological reason for it, too!
According to Stanford Neuroscientist Andrew Huberman, sighing acts like a killswitch for stress and anxiety, helping shift you into a calm mindset.
Sometimes called the physiological sigh, this quick breathing trick is centered around simple anatomy – it mimics how crying infants and children breathe to self-soothe.