Find Calm in One Minute with This Breathing Exercise for Anxiety

Last Update: February 7, 2021

From the daily challenges of the “new normal” to the nightly news, by now you’ve probably noticed that the arrival of 2021 didn’t exactly erase all the stress of 2020. While you can’t do much about what’s going on around you, what is within your control is how you react—which means having a few coping mechanisms in your toolkit is essential. Fortunately, there’s one very simple yet powerful way to reclaim your state of mind when anxiety and fear creep in.

One of the best ways to refresh your energy and quiet your busy brain involves nothing more than a tool you already have at your disposal: your breath. Unlike so many wellness trends, it’s free, doesn’t require any special skills, can be done anywhere, and takes less than a minute.

For guidance on how to use breathing techniques to find calm, we turned to Dakota Kahn, a Senior Accountant at Thrive Market as well as a Registered Yoga Teacher and mindfulness pro. “You can use this simple breathing exercise to manifest a mind-body connection that will calm your nervous system and clear your mind,” she says. Try it as a morning ritual (maybe while the coffee brews?), a step in your PM wind-down routine (instead of scrolling Instagram yet again), or a quick midday reset in between Zoom calls.

Step One: Get Comfortable

Find a comfortable seated position. Sit up tall, rooting down through your sit bones and lifting up through the crown of your head. Place your palms face down on your legs to ground yourself, or face up to open yourself to receiving energy. Close your eyes, or soften your gaze inward. Relax the muscles in your face.

Step Two: Set Your Intention

Once you have found a comfortable position, set your intention. This can be a theme, such as gratitude, patience, or self-love, or a tangible goal you are working towards.

Step Three: Release

Sigh out completely to release any stale air you are holding onto.

Step Four: Breathe

With your intention in mind, take three cycles of breath, inhaling through your nose, and exhaling through your mouth. Feel the oxygen travel through you, all the way from your low belly up toward the crown of your head.

On your third inhale, hold your breath at the top. Sip in a little more air. Focus on your intention. On your third exhale, imagine that you are breathing out your intention, sending it out into the universe.

Step Five: Reset

Slowly open your eyes, take a few shrugs with your shoulders, and gently circle your neck. Resume your day in love and light!

If you or a loved one needs mental health support, you can call:

The National Alliance on Mental Illness Hotline: 1-800-950-6264
The National Suicide Prevention Hotline: 1-800-273-8255
The Substance Abuse Treatment Referral Hotline: 1-877-726-4727

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Kirby Stirland

Kirby Stirland is a writer, editor, and New York transplant living in Los Angeles.

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