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This Breathing Trick Could Help To Calm Your Anxiety In Seconds

Give it a try the next time you're feeling anxious.
PHOTO: istockphoto

Anxiety sufferers will know how much the feeling of panic can take over your life; often it can feel like it's overwhelming and uncontrollable, which only worsens the problem.

It can start with a shortness of breath, sweaty palms and having the shakes, and end in a full anxiety attack. But a technique devised by Big Think suggests a way to bring yourself back to a state of calmness in a matter of moments, which could make a big difference to sufferers.

It sounds basic, but it's all down to breathing—"power breathing" to be precise. In a video, Jane McGonigal, author of the personal growth app SuperBetter explains what makes power breathing so different and effective in comparison to the "deep breaths" people with anxiety are often told to exercise.

And it's actually really simple. All you do is focus on exhaling for twice as long as you inhale. "So you might inhale for a count of four and exhale for a count of eight," McGonigal explains in the video.

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Apparently, this technique calms our nerves by counteracting the fight-or-flight adrenalin response we experience when stressed or nervous. The fight-or-flight response occurs from the sympathetic nervous system, but power breathing reportedly switches this to parasympathetic "rest-and-digest" response instead, which slows down our heart rate and relaxes our muscles.

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The method has apparently been used to prevent panic attacks, so if you feel one coming on, it might be worth trying to take a step back and give the power breathing a go.

It's also reported to reduce the symptoms of migraines.

Whether you're a regular sufferer of anxiety, or even if you're just feeling nervous about a stressful work presentation, it's worth trying it out to make you feel all kinds of zen.

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This article originally appeared on Minor edits have been made by the editors.