Monday, August 20, 2012

Breathing as Anxiety Treatment

Treating anxiety can be as easy as breathing! Literally!  It is established that people who experience anxiety tend to be chest breathers. Breathing from the diaphragm can help bring fast anxiety relief. Unfortunately, it's not so easy to do when an anxiety attack is occurring. Proper breathing must be learned and practiced beforehand. I will share two exercises below.

In the first, the goal is to be able to reduce breathing frequency to 6 breaths per minute. The end goal is to learn to breathe from the diaphragm at all times. An easy way to learn to breath from the diaphragm is to get on all fours (hands and knees) so that the chest is in a fixed position. This makes chest breathing more difficult and practically forces diaphragm breathing. Practice this breathing technique in different positions - sitting in a chair, standing, walking - until it becomes natural. Next time you feel the symptoms of anxiety coming on (quick shallow breathing, increased heart rate, shaking hands, etc), make sure you breathe deeply from the diaphragm for fast anxiety relief.

Measured breathing is another effective means of controlling anxiety symptoms. Soften your posture and try to relax a bit. Let your jaw relax and hang open while dropping your shoulders. Slowly breathe in to the count of four, being careful not to breathe from your chest. Hold the breath for a moment and slowly breathe out to the count of seven. Repeat this process for a few minutes.

Sit for a moment and take a few deep, mindful breaths. Doesn't it feel amazing? I can't believe what a gift it feels like when I really focus on bringing in air to nourish my body. When you feel anxiety symptoms at their onset, becoming aware of the breath is a means of controlling the anxiety and staying in charge of your body's response. I urge you to give it a try!

As a psychotherapist specializing in anxiety, I know how crippling these symptoms can be. If you need more help with controlling anxiety symptoms please call me at 770-789-0847 or visit our website at My personal website contains information on treatment for anxiety too!