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  • Writer's pictureLyanne Pudney

Stop telling me to breathe!!

If you're sick of people banging on about breathing techniques, maybe this will help;


Firstly if I don't understand the point of something, I'm unlikely to try it. Secondly, if I try it & it doesn't work, there is obviously no point right? This is where people with anxiety may be missing a trick.


The science:

Your breathing actually has the power to start the process of over-riding the fight, flight, freeze process. Don't take my word for it, look up the vagus nerve or 'vagal breathing' & you'll find tons of info.

The problem is we often don't do it either properly, or for long enough.

If you breathe slowly for around 1 minute you should notice a difference - maybe not from full on freak out to zen like calm, but a difference. That vagus nerve, when you exhale slowly, will let your brain know that it's time to stop panicking and turn on the calm down process (parasympathetic nervous system).

Doing it right:

Breathing shallowly wont help, we need longer, slower breaths, like inhaling for 4 seconds, holding it for 4, then exhaling slowly for 6 seconds if you can manage it. If you get light headed, just breathe normally in whichever way is comfortable & work on slowing your breathing gradually. There will be a technique that suits you, so try a few ways.

Then what?

Coming down from high levels of anxiety takes a little time, but starting with breathing allows the nervous system to begin resetting. Once you clear your mind fog a little, you'll usually feel more able to consider what you need next in terms of another technique to relax you, an activity that distracts and clams you, or whatever you need in that moment.


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