Feeling anxious? Blow your (pretend) horn!

Mind & Spirit

If you’re feeling anxious, you probably know that changing your breathing can help.

There’s a vicious cycle that starts: You are anxious and gulp in breaths, thinking you can’t breathe. Your nervous system responds to the anxiety by increasing your heart rate and pumping adrenaline, which makes the anxiety worse.

A simple breathing exercise can help you slow your breathing and stop, which will slow your heart rate. Try this method of pursed-lip breathing used by people with COPD and other lung diseases:

  1. Breathe in through your nose for a count of four.
  2. Purse your lips, as if you are going to blow a horn (or on hot soup if that visual works better for you)
  3. Exhale through your mouth slowly for a count of four or longer, if you can. Don’t blow hard, just keep exhaling as long as possible, as if you want to hold one note while playing a trumpet. You should feel your pulse slow down.
  4. Repeat as needed until the anxiety passes

Everyone has occasional anxiety. But talk to your doctor if you’re anxious more times than not, interferes with your daily life or if self-help tips like this one don’t help your anxiety to pass more quickly.

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