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Breathing Techniques for Anxiety

KarynJKarynJ SE QldMember Posts: 193
Hi everyone
In addition to the popular "take a deep breath" advice, thought I'd add some specific breathing techniques that can help you try and manage anxiety in the really stressful situations.  I am not a doctor and if any of these exercises make you feel light-headed, stop immediately.  For practising purposes, try them sitting upright.  But they can be used in any position when anxiety starts to take over.

Box Breathing
Inhale for a count of 4
Hold for a count of 4
Exhale for a count of 4
Hold for a count of 4
Easy to remember because of the 4 x 4 x 4.

4 - 2 - 6
Inhale for a count of 4
Hold for a count of 2
Exhale for a count of 6
I found this one so useful when they were putting in the guide wire before surgery
There is a longer version of this called 4 - 7- 8.  But I struggle to hold my breath for 7 counts and exhale for such a long time.

Nasal control
Hold your finger against one nostril.  Breathe in deeply.
Switch your finger and hold against the other nostril.  Breathe out fully.
Repeat.  When you get the idea of this, you don't have to physically hold a nostril.  You can just visualise it.

General info
Something I have learned is that when people start to hyperventilate and say they can't breathe, they can't get air, they are actually over-breathing and taking in too much air.  They end up taking short sharp breaths in and don't exhale.  So if you can, remember to BREATHE OUT!  If you can force yourself to expel as much air as possible from your body, your instincts kick in and you will have to take a deep breath in to compensate.  If you can repeat the deep breathing a few times, you will find physiologically your body will start to stabilise - although you will still feel the panic in your mind.

Concentrating on your breath and counting are about the only things that we can do in the present moment.  Everything else in your mind is generally rehashing something that's happened in the past or worrying about something that might happen in the future.  Breathing is right here, right now so focusing on how it feels to breathe, the sensation of air going in and out of your nose, lungs, mouth keeps you grounded and helps temporarily blocking out other distractions.

Happy breathing!


  • NefertariNefertari Member Posts: 288
    @KarynJ, I do a lot of those breathing exercises now.  It really helps me relax, especially at night for getting back to sleep.  The breathing in one nostril is a new one,  so I will give it a try tonight. ;) and let you know
  • jennyssjennyss Western NSWMember Posts: 1,527
    Dear @KarynJ,
    Thanks for your post. At night if I can't sleep I breathe and say to myself 'In, two three four; out, two three four'. This helps to shut out stupid thoughts which are squirreling around. 
  • poodlejulespoodlejules Member Posts: 389
    We practice the alternate nostril breathing........Nadi Shodhana........ in yoga. It's meant to have lots of beneficial effects on your health by supplying oxygen to all different parts of the body ............and also gives your nose a good workout !
    There's lots of youtube videos you can practice with .
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