We take breathing for granted as something that we just do but breathing and anxiety do have a link. Breathing is not something we have to think about, it just happens. We adults breathe about 15 times per minute on average. I am a shallow breather so I would take more breaths per minute than the average person would.
What does that me to me personally? Well when someone is anxious they tend to over breathe and hyperventilate but I am already half way there already.
My goal over the last few years is to control my breathing by slowing it down and taking bigger breaths. This was not easy at first but when you start to see the good results then you know you have to persevere. Retraining yourself for anything takes time so don’t be hard on yourself and keep going. I used to just do these exercises below when I felt a panic attack coming on but now I do them when I think about it as a kind of preventative measure.
Here is my 5 step method for breathing and anxiety:
- If you are already hyperventilating just exhale, then hold your breath for a count of 5. Breathe in and hold that breath again. Now continue or if this step does not apply to you go to No 2 now.
- Sit somewhere quiet if possible. You don’t need to lie down unless you really want to. If this is not possible then proceed anyway.
- Take a deep breath for 5 seconds, hold it for another 5 seconds, feel your stomach expand, now exhale slowly for a further 10 seconds.
- Do this again a few more times.
- Now breathe in without holding your breath and exhale slowly.
These are easy steps to take to control your breathing and anxiety but they work for me so try them yourself and see what difference they make for you. Everyone is different but I am sure you will get some benefit from this method.