Breathing to Regulate Overwhelming Emotions

If you are feeling overwhelmed by emotions from a recent or past event, or due to panic or anxiety, here are three simple breathing exercises that can really help.

Diaphragmatic breathing:
Breathe in through your nose and out through your mouth, focusing only on the rise and fall of the belly. You may want to actually place your hand on the belly so you can concentrate on this motion.  We tend to breathe usually only in our upper chest, and this is less effective in regulating emotions.

Complete breathing:
Start with the belly breath as noted above, but this time, feel the breath coming into and expanding the rib cage.  You can release this breath slowly and steadily, which promotes tranquility, or you can push out the breath rapidly, and notice how good it feels to “let go”.

Ujjayi breathing:
This is a very noisy kind of breathing that you can use at a time of extreme stress, and it will calm your mood and affect.  Breathe in through your nose and out through your nose with your mouth closed, and this breathing should sound quite noisy.  Only try about five breaths the first time you try it. The louder the breath sounds, the better this works, to bring about a relaxation response.