Did you know that breathing through a paper straw can help relieve anxiety?

We can all agree that this year has been a tough one, particularly for people living with anxiety and mental health issues. Research done by Rethink Mental Illness shows that 80% of people living with mental illness say that Covid-19 has made their anxiety and mental health worse. 

Anxiety is something that everyone experiences from time to time and is a perfectly normal reaction, which usually passes once the situation is over. It can make the heart race, may make us become sweaty, shaky or even short of breath.

However, for some people, these feelings can be constant, overwhelming and become an out of proportion response disproportionately affecting their daily life. When anxiety becomes a problem, our worries can be intense and irrational, interfering with our daily life and relationships.

The good news is that there are many things you can try, to help cope with anxiety and one of them is straw breathing. It is a very simple technique and only requires one straw and 5 minutes. It can help to dramatically reduce feelings of anxiety and panic and increase feelings of calm and relaxation.

When you are stressed, angry or panicked, you tend to take short, shallow breaths which in turn can increase the activity in your sympathetic nervous system, which is responsible for the fight or flight response.

If you are able to take slow, deep breaths this can have the affect of stimulating the parasympathetic nervous system which will balance the effects of the sympathetic nervous system, inducing a state of calm. Regular practice with a straw helps your body regain its natural balance and reduce your reaction to stress. It can also dramatically reduce the feelings of anxiety.

  1. Sit comfortably with your back straight, allowing your lungs to expand fully.
  2. Inhale through your nose and exhale fully and slowly through the straw. Do not force the breath out. Repeat this process for about five minutes.
  3. Try to breath down into your abdomen, feeling the movement of the abdomen as you breathe in and out.
  4. Do not force the breath, just breathe spontaneously.
  5. Allow your mind to become still and feel the sensation of calm.
  6. To increase the intensity exhale through the straw into a glass of water.