Crippling anxiety — it strikes when you least expect it, giving us the fear of impending danger. During episodes of severe anxiety, which commonly manifests as panic attacks, disturbing thoughts cloud up your mind, leaving you with an array of psychological and physiological symptoms for hours, or in some cases, days.

Aside from the conventional usage of psychopharmacological interventions, in which some debate to be harmful unless the condition is chronic enough, there are many therapeutic options that may help lessen future episodes of severe anxiety.

Here are four traditional breathing exercises that are bound to put you in full control of your anxiety.

Mindful Breathing

This breathing technique is helpful for slowing your respiration rate.

Find a relaxed position and pay close attention to your breath without adjusting it. Feel the changes (in sensations) that follow after each deep breath; the rhythm, texture, and temperature of each breath you take.

Once you’ve done this, continue with even deeper breaths, all-while noticing stress, concerns and judgments going away after a couple of minutes of mindful breathing.

Breathing Words

If you want something to focus on during your breathing exercises, this technique is probably for you.

This exercise involves adding words to each deep breath to keep your mind occupied from anxiety and also implements a particular message.

Sit straight on a chair. Rather than speaking the words, visualize breathing them in as you inhale and exhale. For example, breath-in the word “I,” as you hold the inhalation, think “am,” and as you exhale think of “calm.” Start out by using “I am calm” and once you master it, change it to whatever choice of words make you more relaxed.

Square Breathing

Square breathing, also known as ‘four-square breathing,’ takes the approach of counting to four while taking deep breaths.

Start off by getting comfortable on a chair. Once you’re sitting in a snug position, breath-in while counting to four, hold your breath to the count of four, exhale to the count of four, and then take a short break to the count of four. Repeat this exercise for four minutes.

If this technique works for you, try maximizing its efficacy by adding visualizations during your breathing exercises. Envision drawing a four-angled box when counting to four each time. This will keep your mind distracted from any unwanted thoughts.

Balloon Breaths

This is probably my favorite technique, in which a lot of people find efficacy with this one. It involves diaphragmatic breaths that can swiftly bring you to a relaxed state of mind.

You start by sitting on a chair or lying flat on the floor. One benefit of lying on the floor is that you can easily feel each diaphragmatic breath as you inhale.

Once you find a right position, place one hand on your stomach and the other on your chest. As you inhale, notice your diaphragm expanding, similar to a balloon. When exhaling, imagine the balloon flattening and losing all its air.

Do this exercise ten more times.

This article was originally published at Mental Daily