Paying attention to your breathing is one of the most fundamental ways to relieve anxiety and tension.
Debra Stork, Chartered Physiotherapist and Pilates instructor, describes a couple of simple ways to improve your breathing.
Sit comfortably with both feet on the floor, put one hand on your stomach and the other one on your chest, and see which one raises when you breathe in.
If it is your chest that is rising, it probably means your breath is shallow (most of us do). This type of breathing may contribute to an increase in anxiety and tension.
Imagine now that you have a balloon in your stomach that you are trying to fill in with air. As you take your next breath in through your nose, feel that breath of fresh air going all the way down into your stomach to fill that balloon and you will feel your stomach rise. As you breathe out, imagine you are blowing out a candle and allow the stomach to relax.
When you breathe this way your diaphragm, a dome-shaped muscle, moves down and pushes your stomach out as you breathe in. Practise breathing more deeply until you can get your stomach to rise consistently on the in-breath.