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How to Control Anxiety by Changing Your Breathing


Shallow breathing is an automatic physical response to anxiety, and shallow breathing can also cause anxiety - it’s a bit of a chicken and egg thing, a loop where it’s hard to find which comes first.

Learning to change your breathing can help you control anxiety and become calm. It sounds very simple, but like all simple truths it can take a while to get the hang of.

Here’s how to get started in controlling your breath to reduce anxiety when it strikes, and better still, to train yourself to feel calm and in control so that anxiety doesn’t catch you unawares.

How to Control Anxiety 1: Work with Your Breath866110617_14d583e540_m.jpg


You can learn to notice the signs of increased anxiety before it peaks. Once you're aware of the increasing presence of anxiety, you can consciously counteract it by slowing and deepening your breath.

If you know certain situations make you feel anxious, then start breathing deeply and slowly before you are in that situation. You could think of it like a protection routine. Just like a diver checks his oxygen tank and mask and tests breathing with them before jumping into the sea. You can check your posture and breathing before you enter stressful situations.

(CC) FLICKR photo by: szlea

Drop your shoulders, stand up straight and breath deeply down into your stomach, gradually slow your breathing down and try and hold your breath for a second before breathing out. When you do breath out, make sure you do it fully and try and pause for a second or two with your lungs empty before you breath in again.

Those who practice meditation know that it is in the gaps between breaths that you can find calm and peace. Calming your breath in this way and allowing pauses between inhalation and exhalation has a direct calming effect on your mind.

If you wake up with anxiety in the morning, you can go through the above to tame it and start your day feeling more in control. It may take some time to get the knack and get in the habit, but it will work, especially if you rise to the challenge and practice regularly.


How to Control Anxiety 2: Keep Practicing Calm Breathing

I often think of how highly trained people such as members of the SAS can handle incredibly volatile situations where most of us would freeze or freak out.

How do they do it? Training and practice. Over and over again. Learning to train and change your breath requires practice too. The good news is that breath training is pleasant and easy. And you can get started today simply download a guided breathing meditation MP3 and listen to it on your computer, or MP3 player every morning and every night. It will only take you about 5 minutes per session and you will start to notice the benefits immediately.

(CC) FLICKR photo by: W1LL33




*UPDATE* Our new collection of  breathing exercises for relief from stress and anxiety is now available from CD Baby, Amazon and the iTunes Music Store...


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Reader Comments (9)

wow i was skeptic at first but man this control your breathing stuff really works - helped me on my first date and man that date went well!!!!!!! :)

Jan 24, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterNick

Thanks for your positive feedback Nick. I'm glad your breathing experiment helped you feel calm.

Jan 25, 2009 | Registered CommenterAnanga

Thanks for the post! Deep breathing exercises are excellent for anxiety and many people report positive results from meditation. Some other natural anxiety remedies to look into are St.John's Wort, SAMe, L-Theanine, and Tryptophan.

Sep 18, 2009 | Unregistered Commenteranxiety remedy

For a happy life physical and mental health is essential. get you out from stress. I found a website with good techniques for anxiety meditation.

Nov 3, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterRelease Technique

Breathing is always the best for most health problems. One should make it a habit to perform breathing exercises regularly, it helps keep the mind & body in balance. You feel energetic, positive, it keeps you calm & helps prevent anxiety.

Dec 14, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterTreating Anxiety

hi there

good post

I too have had to work on my breathing in order to get a handle on anxiety

Feb 16, 2010 | Unregistered Commenteranxiety guy

I used to get chest pains quite often, and I thought they were from acid reflux. I took Gaviscon, then Losec, and returned back to Gaviscon, only to realize the pain was STILL there! After seeing a counsellor, I realized that I had terrible anxiety issues. After I began to do relaxation and performed a breathing exercise twice a day my chest pains went away!

Anxiety can lead to physical symptoms!!! I was lucky enough to alleviate them early on before it was too late!!

Good luck to everyone else with anxiety, whatever form it may be. =)
Keep breathing...~

Right breathing technique is very effective in reduction of anxiety. And people think that it is not, just because its simple and easy. Anyways very informative and well written post. Thanks for sharing.

Sep 23, 2010 | Unregistered Commenterpanic away

i read this , while i was thinking unrealistic things (bringing on anxiety) i read through the entire thing, & breathed the way you told me to , & it helped i stop thinking stupid,
im going to be doing this lots.
thanks a bunch!

Aug 13, 2011 | Unregistered Commentercw,

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