Scientists say this is the most effective way of calming anxiety

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Sarah Biddlecombe
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Anxiety is a part of life for some 8 million people living in the UK, and women are almost twice as likely to be diagnosed with anxiety disorders than men.

People use numerous coping strategies to help soothe the symptoms of anxiety, from exercising regularly to keeping a bullet journal or expressing themselves creatively, and there isn’t a one-size-fits-all approach to managing the condition.

However, a revolutionary new piece of research appears to have struck upon a simple method that could help the majority of us soothe anxiety, calm the mind and relax the body.

All we have to do is take some slow, deep breaths.

While this might sound like common sense, scientists have now found a direct link between the way we breathe and our state of mind.

The research, published in Science, identified a group of neurons in the brain’s “breathing centre” that also have a “direct and dramatic influence on higher-order brain function”.

By taking slow, deep breaths, we can therefore promote a sense of calm within our minds.

Mark Krasnow, a professor of biochemistry at Stanford University, who led the research, told TIME, “This liaison to the rest of the brain means that if we can slow breathing down, as we can do by deep breathing or slow controlled breaths, the idea would be that these neurons then don’t signal the arousal center, and don’t hyperactivate the brain.

“So you can calm your breathing and also calm your mind.”

The connection between deep breathing and our state of mind has even been suggested as a way to increase productivity in the workplace, with “happiness guru” Max Strom recommending that workers take “breathing breaks” to make them calmer and more efficient.

Sounds worth a try to us.

Images: iStock


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Sarah Biddlecombe

Sarah Biddlecombe is an award-winning journalist and Digital Commissioning Editor at Stylist. Follow her on Twitter