These deep breathing exercises for anxiety are a great way to combat anxiety, and also can help to keep anxiety attacks (panic attacks) at bay. Try these techniques to ease your anxiety.
I have suffered from anxiety my whole life. I still remember my very first panic attack like it was yesterday.
I was 25 and at a training event for my job. The symptoms started on the bus back to the hotel, and quickly became worse. My chest was tight, I couldn’t breathe, I was sweating, my heart was pounding.
I seriously thought I was dying, or at least having a heart attack. So I went to the emergency room. And that’s where they told me it was just a panic attack.
To this day, I don’t know what brought it on. It just happens. I struggled with it for a little while, until I decided to go to a therapist.
And that’s where I learned to control it. Through breathing exercises as well as some other cognitive therapy. It was a life changer.
I still get anxiety attacks today, albeit much less often as I’ve learned many coping skills for anxiety. However, every time I fly (I hate flying), I have to use these breathing techniques for anxiety to prevent a full blown panic attack. And it works.
So if you suffer from anxiety, I highly recommend trying these breathing techniques to ease your symptoms. They do work.
Some people also like to use essential oils to help with anxiety. There is no medical proof that this works, but I like to use them.
**I am not a therapist or doctor. These techniques are based on my own experiences. If you need serious help, please visit a therapist for individualized treatment.
Breathing Exercises for Anxiety
First off, let’s talk a little about breathing in general. When you start to feel anxious, your breathing gets more shallow and rushed. This can cause you to start feeling dizzy, lightheaded which in turn can increase your anxiety.
We want to prevent this kind of breathing. Breathing has such a huge impact on how you feel, so it’s important to understand the importance of breathing properly.
That said, let’s get into the breathing techniques we can use to reduce, or even prevent, anxiety.
Breath with Your Abdomen
You want to breathe through your abdomen (your diaphragm to be exact) instead of your chest.
To learn diaphragmatic breathing, lay flat on your back with one hand on your chest and the other over your abdomen (below your rib cage).
Slowly take a breath through your nose so your stomach moves out – your chest should be staying still.
Slowly let that breath out, tightening your stomach muscles slightly as you exhale.
This can be done sitting in a chair as well, but it’s easiest to start lying down.
Read this article from Harvard Health for more information on breathing through your diaphragm.
Inhale Slowly Through Your Nose
Don’t take too many deep breaths too quickly – it should be slow. Taking them too quickly can lead to hyperventilation.
Exhale Slowly Through Your Mouth
Spend time slowly exhaling a LONG exhale. Sometimes this works to calm you better than the inhaling.
Some find it helpful to sigh as your exhaling. Do what feels good for you, everyone is a little different.
These breathing techniques are often used in yoga. If you’re a yoga beginner, check out these free online yoga video for beginners.
Close Your Eyes
Closing your eyes helps you focus on what you’re doing and feeling. When you focus on how your breaths feel, the anxiety can slowly melt away.
Use Your Imagination
I know this sounds weird, but imagining yourself in a calm place as you breath will help slow your breathing. I learned to choose a place where you feel the most relaxed.
For me, it was always this little spot in Venice right off the water. I drank a Pelligrino and ate a slice of pizza while dangling my legs over the edge of the seawall.
So think back to your most calm place. OR choose a place where you would like to be. Whatever gives you a sense of calm.
Equal breathing just means taking equal breaths, which is typically done by counting. As you breath in, slowly count to 4 (1 – 2 – 3 – 4), then exhale counting to 4.
Keep repeating this process while being mindful of how you are feeling.
Another way to relieve anxiety is to use guided meditation. This does also entail breathing techniques. Try this 20 Minute Guided Meditation.
Practice these breathing exercises for anxiety for at least 3-5 minutes to help relieve anxiety. I actually find they work best if you can do it for 20 minutes. If you’re able to do this daily, even when your’re not feeling anxiety, your overall anxiety can be reduced.
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Don’t get worried when it doesn’t work at first. Those suffering with anxiety disorders may initially feel worse or have trouble with these exercises. However, if you practice them, it will eventually start to work.
Again, I am not a doctor or therapist. See a doctor or therapist for an individualized treatment plan.
Have you used any of these techniques? Leave a comment below and let me know if they work!
Martina Halls says
The breathing technique is a really working technique. As an anxiety sufferer, I can confirm it.
With children, we also learn the five-finger technique for quick calming. Usually during panic attacks only you can help yourself – people around you get frightened and shunned, which only makes you panic more. That’s why I feel calmer if I know how I can help myself.
Definitely! I prefer to get away form people when I feel the panic coming on so I can calm myself before re-engaging. It’s amazing the wonders breathing correctly can do!
Anthony Cerullo says
This is a good article. Sometimes all it takes is a couple of full deep breaths.
Totally! Glad you enjoyed the article.