Stress and Anxiety Management with Breathwork

The long-term solution for your well-being

Breathing affects all of your body systems

By Kath Wong | February 26th, 2021

Stress is something people tend to face daily, especially now since the pandemic hits. What’s important is how we can learn to cope with it. Most people experience both stress and anxiety combined from time to time. Do you know what is the difference between the two? Stress is any demand placed on the brain or physical body, the feeling is often triggered by any event that makes you feel frustrated or nervous; while anxiety is a feeling of fear, worry or unease.

What does it feel like?

Stress and anxiety can produce psychological as well as physical symptoms. Everyone experience it differently, but the common emotional symptoms include the feeling of impending doom, panic or nervousness, difficulty concentrating, irrational anger, restlessness; whereas physical symptoms include stomach ache, muscle tension, headache, rapid breathing, fast heartbeat, sweating, shaking, dizziness, frequent urination, change in appetite, trouble sleeping, diarrhea, and fatigue. When the stress and anxiety prolongs, people may start to experience negative health-related outcomes which accumulate to developing heart disease, high blood pressure, diabetes, as well as depression.

There are also disorders that can contribute to feeling anxious and stressed on a daily basis and for prolonged periods of time such as:

  • Generalized anxiety disorder (GAD)

Generalized anxiety disorder (GAD) is a common anxiety disorder which is characterized by uncontrollable worrying. People who suffer this condition are always anxious about bad things happening to them or their loved ones, while they often are not able to identify the source or reason behind the worry.

  • Panic disorder

Panic disorder is a condition that causes panic attacks, defined by the moments of extreme fear accompanied by the combination of a pounding heart, shortness of breath, and a fear of impending doom.

  • Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)

Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is characterized by the condition that causes flashbacks or anxieties as the result from traumas experienced such as bad accidents.

  • Social phobia

Social phobia is when shakiness or nervousness occurs in situations that involve interacting with others.

  • Obsessive-compulsive disorder

Obsessive-compulsive disorder causes repetitive thoughts and the compulsion drawn to complete certain ritual actions.

How can the Breathwork help?

There are various ways to cope with stress and anxiety such as eating a balanced diet, limiting caffeine and alcohol consumption, getting enough sleep, having regular exercise, meditating, etc., but to manage and solve the condition in a long run may require you to work on the one important thing that many people tend to not pay attention to: the breathwork.

Breathwork refers to any type of breathing exercises and techniques performed to improve the mental, physical and spiritual wellbeing. It is believed that breathing can help to restore equilibrium between the body, mind, emotions and spirit; hence this therapy involves breathing exercises in a conscious and systematic way to improve your organ function, focus, clarity and thought processes.

The normal respiration rate for adults to breathe in 1 minute is between 12 to 20 times, and the experience and process with breathwork will be different in everyone. Inhalation can help to increase energy levels and activates more awakeness, while exhalation can relax the whole body. The aim of this therapy is to achieve balance in both processes.

Breath movement into the lower areas of the abdomen can improve digestion and nutrient uptake from food. It is also believed that the breathing rhythm can impact heart rate variability, which has been proven to be a key indicator to stress and anxiety. Creating more flow of breath can improve our body and its ability to manage stress and anxiety. Besides that, breathwork also gives an opportunity to process suppressed emotions and allow them to be released, giving a clearer mind.

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