Breathe! Anxiety Coach Barbara Spaulding, LCSW, shares a series of anti-anxiety tips to help those who are anxious, fearful, or experiencing panic attacks. This is the first tip in that series.

Anxiety Coach Tip 1: Breathe

Seems obvious right?
“I AM breathing!
When we get anxious or are in the midst of a panic attack, we tend to hold our breath — or breathe too shallowly. Additionally, when wer’re anxious or scared, we speak too quickly. When we do this, we take in too much air.
All of these behaviors increase our anxiety symptoms:
  • Holding your breath
  • Breathing in a shallow manner
  • Talking too fast and taking in too much air
You might be thinking, “What should I do?”

Breathe out first, then begin diaphragm breathing.

How? There are lots of breathing techniques, so let’s just keep it simple. Because when you get anxious, you need simple.
Practice this a few times a day.
  • Learn the difference between feeling calm vs. feeling anxious.
  • Listen to your body while you breathe.
  • If you get a little lightheaded or tingly, it’s probably you’re not breathing deeply enough.
  • Just breathe.

Breathe Out

Try to breathe out first. A GREAT way to do this is to just sigh. Try it now:


The great thing about learning to use your breath to calm you is that it’s always with you.

Calming Breath

  1. Take a long, slow breath in through your nose. Fill the bottom of your lungs first, then your upper lungs.
  2. Hold your breath to the count of “three.”
  3. Exhale slowly through pursed lips, while you relax the muscles in your face, jaw, shoulders, and stomach.
  4. And ALWAYS, be kind to yourself.

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