Everyone experiences anxiety. But there’s a simple practice everyone can use to alleviate anxiety naturally.
While anxiety is a normal part of life, it can become a disorder when it becomes overwhelming, excessive, and uncontrollable. Anxiety disorders are one of the most common mental disorders Americans face — nearly 18% experience an anxiety disorder each year, but only about one-third receive any treatment.
Put simply, according to anxiety.org, “anxiety is the mind and body’s reaction to stressful, dangerous, or unfamiliar situations.” Of course, this is a healthy reaction in many ways, but not everything we face that causes anxiety is something we should process on a continuous loop.
In 2020, facing stressful, dangerous, or unfamiliar situations is an everyday occurrence.
But, in only 5 minutes you can alleviate anxiety naturally with this simple practice.
When you practice breath regulation — pranayama — it can be a salve to soothe anxiety even when facing an often-chaotic world. You can do this powerful, simple breath practice at any time, in any place to create calm and help alleviate anxiety.
In this four-part breath practice, samavritti, our goal is to have every wave of breath be of equal ratios.
To begin, focus on getting your inhale, inhale retention, and exhale to be equal. As you get more practice, add in the fourth part – exhale retention.
Since there is no breath left in your system, the exhale retention step is typically the hardest to achieve. Yet it is very powerful to develop when you are working to alleviate anxiety. As you begin, do a half ratio for exhale retention until you can build to equal ratios with the other three steps.
This breath practice helps calm the mind. Watch this video for a demonstration.
You should accompany your pranayama practice with other aspects of a healthy lifestyle.
1. Quality sleep
If you have insomnia or your sleep is often interrupted, it can impact how you are able to cope with anxiety. Chronic lack of sleep is a stressor to your body and that can impair its functions. While most people don’t get enough sleep, when you improve your sleep it can help improve your mental health.
2. Keep active
When you regularly move your body, it can reduce anxiety symptoms. It’s believed that the “feel-good” endorphins released during exercise help enhance your sense of well-being.
As a yoga and meditation instructor and licensed psychotherapist, I know the power of a daily meditation practice to alleviate anxiety symptoms.
4. Fuel with quality food
Some people’s anxiety increases after they eat and it could be a result of chemicals in processed food or high sugar content. Always stay hydrated and be sure your diet is clean and filled with fruits and vegetables and lean proteins.
Be mindful if you or your clients continue to struggle to get anxiety under control even when trying the four-step breathing practice and other natural remedies. If anxiety is still heightened or drugs/alcohol are being relied on to relieve it or there are thoughts of suicide, it’s time to seek emergency treatment.
To get more support with how to help your clients work through the unique time we’re living in right now, I invite you to join us for the free webinar Body, Brain, and Trauma: How to Ensure Your Work Is Trauma-Informed. In this webinar, you’ll learn how yoga, meditation, and breathwork can help resolve trauma and will better understand the art, science, and psychology of trauma-informed yoga and clinical practice.