Calming rhythmic breathing is a technique for reducing the physical symptoms of anxiety by controlling your breathing rate. There are a number of apps for mobile phone that can teach you this breathing technique, and I review a few of these below. Like most of these techniques, not everyone will get on with it. I find it helpful both for trying to relieve the anxiety that accompanies vertigo attacks and also for general relaxation and reducing tension.
Flowy takes a different approach to other calming breathing apps. It takes the format of a nice little game, with pretty visuals and I found it absorbing. I don’t think that looking at my phone to play the game will be good for me during a migraine. But I do like it and it should be useful and fun at other times. It’s definitely staying on my phone for the time being.
Breathe 2 Relax
The app has a tutorial on how to learn deep breathing which is helpful. The app has other lessons on how stress affects the body that I haven’t explored.
I didn’t like the visuals much. The music and narration was way too much for my migraine brain but they can be altered or turned off in the settings. I’ll be uninstalling this because the other apps were prettier and more appealing.
The free version contains ads although I haven’t been bothered by these yet it is early days. There is a pro-version for £1.99 which is ad free. At first I thought the chimes might be annoying but in fact I found this app was the most peaceful and relaxing to use. The chimes also mean there is no need to look at the screen which made it easier for me to focus on my breathing.
Flowy and Paced Breathing were my favourites and I plan on using both regularly.
Update: After playing Flowy for a little while the boat speeds up. I find it stressful and it makes me feel sea sick so Paced Breathing became the clear winner for me. I’ve been using it for a while now and I’m still finding it useful and calming.
Alternatives to phone apps:
This is a 5 minute demo for the Breathing Zone app which is available for the iphone and Android (£1.99 on Google Play). I found both the graphics and audio irritating – but that is only a matter of taste.
This tutorial on diaphragmatic breathing is presented by Take This, a mental health charity, in conjunction with Habitica, the RPG style productivity app and website. If you’re not familiar with Habitica parts of this article might not make a lot of sense but the video and explanation should still be helpful. It’s a nice straightforward breathing exercise.
Soothing Rhythm Breathing
This guided meditation is produced by the Compassionate Mind Foundation. The exercise was developed by Paul Gilbert as part of Compassion Focused Therapy. It is calming and is a similar to other breathing exercises but with an emphasis on being kind and soothing toward yourself. I like this meditation for when I am being self-critical as well as stressed or tense.