It seems like the most obvious statement in the world to tell you to breathe, but doing it consciously and deliberately can help with a myriad of mental health conditions.

Whilst it may not help every condition, taking control of your breathing can help you reduce anxiety, stress and generally help you feel calmer and improve your sense of wellbeing.

SO BREATHE IN? BREATHE OUT?

We know it sounds painfully obvious, but breathing to help control your emotions is a slightly different skill.

When you can feel it all getting a bit much, starting by relaxing your shoulders and start to breathe in through your nose, then out through your mouth, both ways in a gentle, controlled, managed way.

Start to count to 5 slowly (but not TOO slowly) as you breathe in, and same again as you breathe out. Don't get too worried about the numbers or counting, it's not a precise science but just acts as a way to control your breath and keep it consistent. If you've got a watch with a second-hand (i.e. something that measures seconds), use that.

You might not get to 5 at first, but, as you start to relax, your breathing will slow and you'll gradually get there. It's not a competition, just let it happen.

Feel your lungs filling with air, but not in a way that feels like you're forcing them. Just imagine them filling up from the bottom to the top. Don't hold your breath or pause for, well breath, just keep practising. The longer you do it, the better you'll feel.

HOW DOES BREATHING HELP?

Deep breathing causes the nervous system to do exactly what we need it to do, and that's to calm down. Doing the controlled breathing 'thing' for between 5 - 10 minutes can actually help keep you calm for a quite a long time afterwards.

It works by increasing the amount of oxygen you have in your body, and who doesn't love a little extra oxygen! The more oxygen your brain gets, the better it will function.

One of the main benefits of controlled breathing is that it gets you out of your headspace and helps you connect with your body. You can begin to understand the situation and it adds a clarity of thought you wouldn't otherwise have felt. All together now, breathe in......


If you've got any tips and tricks to help other members of our community, please feel free to share them with us. All the links are below.