4 - 6 Breathing
Controlled breathing is natural first-aid for anxiety, and a simple way to shift your nervous system from a stressed to restorative state. A 4 - 6 breath is one accessible method to try - here’s how:
1 - Sit comfortably with your back as straight as possible - close your eyes if it feels ok to do so.
2 - Take a slow deep breath in through the nose while counting to 4 in your head
3 - Pause and hold the breath for a moment
4 - Slowly release your breath through the mouth while counting to 6
5 - Repeat 4-5 times
What does it do and why does it work? A longer out-breath than in-breath releases excess stress hormones in your bloodstream, which build up when in a stressed or anxious state. Studies show that 15 minutes of this kind of breathing each day can reduce anxiety and stress hormone levels in five days.
You could try the following experiment for a week - Rate your current stress or anxiety level from 0 to 10 (0 = relaxed - 10 = high stress/anxiety). Then when you find yourself over-thinking or scrolling through your phone - pause and practise 4-6 breathing instead for 2 to 3 minutes. Stop and check in again with your stress level (mark out of 10).
Do you feel calmer? Has your number gone down? If so you could always repeat regularly when you feel the need.