Treating anxiety isn’t always easy but it’s possible.
In just a few minutes a day, you can start to chip away at your anxious mind, making way for a calmer state. Using at home exercises, you can retrain your brain to respond differently to your worrisome thoughts.
In this guide, we’re sharing the best anxiety exercises for breathing and the most effective mindfulness for anxiety exercises.
Take a deep breath with us.
Now keep reading. And keep breathing.
Table of Contents
How To Relieve Anxiety with Exercises
If you’re looking for ways on how to relieve anxiety, choose a practice you like and stick with it. While some anxiety exercises for breathing won’t be comfortable for you, try to find one that resonates.
Then make a pact with yourself to practice it for a few minutes each day. If you notice that’s what helps anxiety, keep the practice. If not, switch to another mindfulness for anxiety exercise and try again.
Sometimes the key for how to relieve anxiety is making coping mechanisms into a practice. That way, whenever you feel anxious, you’ll have a different automatic go-to response. Over time, this should work to treat your anxiety disorder.
5 Anxiety Exercises Breathing: What Helps Anxiety?
First, let’s discuss the best anxiety exercises for breathing. If you’re wondering what helps anxiety, try to treat your anxiety disorder with mindfulness breathing techniques. By following your breath, you focus on your body’s natural responses rather than your anxious thoughts. When you’re looking for natural ways on how to relieve anxiety, these exercises are amongst the first recommend.
4-4-4-4 Breathing: Anxiety Exercises Breathing
If you want to try anxiety exercises for breathing, use this simple technique. It’s easy to remember and can be done anywhere. Here’s how:
- Breathe in for 4 seconds
- Hold your breath for 4 seconds
- Exhale for 4 seconds
- Hold for 4 seconds
Out of all the anxiety exercises for breathing, this is one of the most popular. You simply need to remember that each action in the breath cycle is 4 seconds long. While you’re breathing, try to focus all your thoughts on the movement of your breath and counting. When your mind strays to anther topic, gently bring yourself back to your breathing. Pay attention to all the breathing sensations like how it feels, how your chest expands and contracts, etc. What helps anxiety is to control your thoughts, which affect how you feel. Overtime, mindfulness for anxiety exercises can help you recognize negative thoughts and shift them toward your present moment, relieving anxiety.
Anxiety exercises for breathing can be used whenever you’re feeling anxious. Practice this whenever you’re feeling anxious at work, school or at home. Since the exercises is discreet, you can also try it during a meeting or on public transit.
Slow Belly Breathing
Here’s another idea for anxiety exercises for breathing. Slow belly breathing encourages you to focus on your breath while also feeling your belly. In this exercise, what helps anxiety is to focus on your breathing and the sensations. Every time a thought pops up and you recognize it, shift your attention back to breathing.
- Sit down and place your hands on your belly
- Slowly breath in, filling up your belly with breathe. Imagine your belly as a balloon, as you inhale, blow the balloon up as much as you can. Feel your inflated belly.
- Hold for a moment.
- Breathe out, exhaling slowly, letting the air out the “balloon.” Feel your belly getting smaller again
To treat anxiety disorder using this technique, try to put all your focus onto your breathing sensations. Notice your hands move up and down as you breathe in and out. Like other anxiety exercises for breathing, you repeat this for as long as you’d like. Start with 5 minutes and work your way up to 10, or longer if you’d like. Mindfulness for anxiety exercises are most helpful when they’re practiced daily.
A Come Back Breath
If you’re looking for anxiety exercises for breathing you can do quickly, try this simple technique. Set the intention to “come back” to the present moment after you take a deep breath.
Next time you notice yourself getting caught up in negative thoughts, take one deep, slow breath. Pay attention to the sensations of the breath. When you’re finished exhaling, return back to the present moment, leaving your anxious thoughts behind.
Do this every time you feel your yourself drifting off to a worrisome place. When you’re wondering how to relieve anxiety, take deep breaths and intend to expel the thoughts with your exhale.
Straw Breathing For How to Relieve Anxiety
Another technique for how to relieve anxiety is to breathe through a straw. This helps regulate and slow your breathing, which may also slow down your anxious mind. Here’s how to do straw anxiety exercises for breathing:
- Inhale through your nose, counting to 4
- Pause and place a straw into your mouth for the exhale
- Exhale through the straw, counting to 6
If you don’t have a straw, you can simply use pursed lips for the exhale.
In Through Nose, Out Through Mouth
For another variation of anxiety exercises for breathing, pay attention to the breath as it flows through your nose and mouth.
- Inhale through your nose while counting to 5
- Exhale through your mouth while counting to 5
- If you’re still looking for how to relieve anxiety, continue a few more cycles of this breathing technique.
Like many of these anxiety exercises for breathing, you can use them in public whenever you’re feeling overwhelmed.
6 Mindfulness for Anxiety Exercises: How to Relieve Anxiety
Anxiety exercises for breathing have shown to reduce anxiety for some people. You can also try mindfulness for anxiety exercises. These exercises help you focus on the present moment so you can minimize your anxious thoughts. If you’re wondering how to relieve anxiety, these techniques can work over time.
Progressive Muscle Relaxation (PMR) for How to Relieve Anxiety
Progressive muscle relaxation (PMR) involves slowly relaxing your muscles. According to one study, progressive muscle relaxation significantly reduce anxiety levels.
For many of us, anxiety isn’t only mental, but becomes physical too. Our anxious thoughts tense our body, even without us realizing. The tension in our body sends signals to our brain confirming we’re anxious. And the cycle continues.
What helps anxiety is to break that cycle by telling your body to relax with progressive muscle relaxation. Start from the top of your body and work your way downwards, tensing for 10 seconds and then releasing each muscle for 10 seconds. For example, tense your forehead muscles for 10 seconds. Then release for 10 seconds. Then move onto your jaw, your neck and shoulders, etc.
Practicing this is a good trick for how to relieve anxiety. When you do it over and over, you’ll learn what relaxation and tension feels like. When you’re able to be conscious of the tension in your body, you can release it and send “relaxation signals” back to your brain to treat anxiety disorder.
Do a “Pleasure” or “Play” Activity
Many of the activities in our day are “have tos” and not “want tos.” From showering, going to work and cooking dinner, most of our day revolves around a check-list. Although this is part of being an adult, you can’t completely erase the child within you. If you’re looking for how to relieve anxiety, try simply doing things you like more often. Carve out time to do things you find pleasurable or playful. These things should be done for no reason other than that you enjoy them. They also shouldn’t have a goal. For example, making crafts to sell doesn’t count, however making jewelry just because you enjoy it does.
Try to take some time each day, even if it’s only 5 minutes, to do something you enjoy. This looks different to anyone and may include:
- Painting or drawing
- Jewelry making
- Board games
- Video games
- Phone app games
- Reading a novel
- Watching comedy
- Visiting new places in town
- Going for walks
- Spending time with pets
- Hanging out with friends or family
- Enjoying a meal with others
One person’s joyful activity might cause you stress and vice versa. The trick is to choose activities you like doing and to do them with no goal in mind. Sometimes what helps anxiety is to find the joy in life again—and to find it daily.
Name 3 Senses
If you’re looking for ways to treat anxiety during an anxious moment, try these short mindfulness for anxiety exercises. Take a few moments to pause and name:
- One thing you can see (lamp, desk, picture frame)
- One thing you can hear (people talking, cars driving by, birds chirping)
- One thing you can feel (chair beneath you, wind against your skin, feet resting on the floor)
Slowly answer one question at a time to yourself. Allow it to bring you back into the present moment.
Sometimes the answer to how to relieve anxiety in the moment is to get back into your body and focus on your senses.
Affirmations can sound cheesy, but they work for many people. Anxiety affirmations are short phrases you repeat to calm your anxiety. Although you can repeat them out loud, they’re usually said inside your head as a reminder.
The trick to how to relieve anxiety with affirmations is to choose one that feels good to you. For example, repeating “I’m calm” might not help because calm feels out of reach during an anxious period. Instead, choose something you find realistic but that still brings your anxiety down a notch. For example, “I’ve got through it before, I’ll get through it again,” is encouraging, factual and realistic—making it a great affirmation.
What helps anxiety when you’re using affirmations is to pay attention to the words and the meaning. Try repeating your affirmation inside your head 10 times, directing all of your attention on the statement.
Need ideas for positive affirmations for anxiety? Read these 33 Ultra Life-Changing Anxiety Affirmations.
Next, learn how to relieve anxiety using visualization. Whenever you’re feeling overwhelmed, take a few moments to try this exercise to treat anxiety disorder. In this exercise, what helps anxiety dissipate is visualizing it getting smaller and smaller.
Call something you’re anxious about to mind. Now imagine placing that anxiety in a balloon and blowing it up. Visualize the balloon drifting high into the air. See it getting smaller and smaller until it disappears over the horizon. As the balloon disappears, imagine your worry disappearing. When you’re finished, move on to the next worry to put inside a balloon and repeat.
1 Minute Exercise
Research shows that physical activity can help anxiety. It releases feel-good chemicals that help minimize anxiety. In fact, having an active lifestyle is associated with a 60% lower risk of developing an anxiety disorder. It’s a good idea to add exercise into your daily routine if you haven’t already. Physical exercise can also be done in short bursts to reduce anxiety.
Next time you’re looking for how to relieve anxiety, try doing something physical for one minute. That could be:
- Running on the spot
- Taking a walk around your home or office
- Doing squats
- Air boxing
The exercise you choose should speed up your heart rate. Start with one minute and work your way up to 5 minutes if you find it helps treat anxiety disorder.
How to Treat Anxiety Disorder Professional: What Helps Anxiety?
Using anxiety exercises for breathing can help you treat anxiety disorder. Sometimes though, we need professional help. Working with a trained mental health professional can help us find the treatments and coping mechanisms that work best. Since everyone is different, they can help you pinpoint your triggers and what specifically might work best.
Consider asking your doctor to refer you to a mental health professional. If you don’t have the budget to pay for a therapist, consider these alternatives:
- Ask your doctor about free or low-cost mental health resources
- Ask your community health center about local resources
- Find therapists who work on a sliding scale (adjusting therapy rates to your income)
- Online therapists often have reduced fees
- Find online support groups, like searching “anxiety support group” on Facebook
Summary: How to Relieve Anxiety with Anxiety Exercises for Breathing & Mindfulness
If you’re wondering how to treat your anxiety disorder, the first step is to talk to your doctor. Seeking professional advice can help us find mental health solutions faster. A therapist can teach you coping mechanisms specific to your situation.
At home, you should also try anxiety exercises for breathing. These practices help you regulate your breath and return to the present moment. You can also use mindfulness of anxiety exercises to help reduce the chatter in your anxious mind. Scroll through our list of ways on how to relieve anxiety above. Choose an exercise that resonates and practice it daily to see if you notice changes.