When I take a step back and figure out what has been the biggest help to soothe my anxiety, it is definitely belly breathing!
Imagine yourself in a situation that makes you feel uncomfortable. For me, it’s being stuck in a long line at the store when I need to be somewhere at a specific time.
When I am in that line my breath is shallow and my thoughts are rapid. In order to send the signal to my brain that everything is ok I need to send my breath into my stomach.
This tool is powerful but needs to be practiced when you are feeling comfortable so that when uncomfortable moments come up, the body remembers what to do.
To try belly breath:
Bring one hand to your heart and the other to your stomach
Inhale and notice where most of the air goes
If the air goes mostly to your heart or chest area we want to encourage that breath to work its way into your belly.
When working with students, I like to place a bean bag on their bellies so they can notice how much breath is moving into the stomach. They can watch their bean bag float up on the inhale and move down on the exhale.
After practicing this technique, when you are in an uncomfortable situation, you can take in large belly breaths to help relax.
Remember that it is a practice, the more you do it the more natural it will feel. Eventually it will turn into an automatic coping strategy.