Time to Take a Deep Breath?

“Take a deep breath” is what people might say to you if you’re feeling anxious. You hear it so often it sounds like a cliche. But what is it about breathing that that affects the way we feel?

When you’re anxious, your breathing can become more rapid and shallow. Your body is trying to take in oxygen as quickly as possible, getting ready to deal with a possible threat. This is called the ‘fight or flight’ response. The problem arises when there isn’t a threat, but your body still responds as if there is.

So what can you do? You can try to slow your breathing down, by counting to five as you breathe out: one elephant, two elephant, and so on to five. This gives your mind something to focus on instead of what is causing your distress. It also means that you are taking control of one of your bodily functions; you can do this, even if you can’t control what is happening around you.

For more ideas about how to manage anxiety, check out No Panic.