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509: Thinking about breathing makes my anxiety worse

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We often receive questions about how to slow anxious breathing down, or what to do when breathing exercises make anxiety feel worse. And that's what we’ll be talking about in this week’s podcast.

 

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Notes from the show:

Many people find breathing exercises helpful for calming anxiety, but for some, focusing on their breath becomes a trigger for anxiety.

When this happens, you start to pay attention to the physical sensations that are occurring in your body, and you begin to experience anxious thoughts as a result. This in turn likely makes you feel more anxious.

 

When noticing your breath becomes a trigger

Because rapid or shallowing breathing is often part of anxiety, we can start to feel uncomfortable focusing on our breath.

Fortunately, there are other things in addition to breathing that can calm anxiety. The key is to keep trying different things until you find one that you can trust.

 

Non-breath based calming techniques

The Calming Point

With thanks to Ayurvedic teacher Dr Vasant Lad

Try this simple pressure point exercise to help you feel calm and in control.

Make a fist with your left hand and look for where your middle finger touches your palm.

Now press that point with the thumb of your right hand for about a minute.

 

Collarbone Tapping

In recent podcast we’ve described how to use one of the EFT Tapping points to calm anxiety/ This point is the K27 — or collarbone point — and you can find it on our Tapping diagram at anxietyslayer.com/eft

Here’s how to use the point: Bunch your fingertips together with your thumb and tap on the K27 point just under your collarbone. You can tap with either hand and on either side of your body. Tap steadily for a couple of minutes, you can walk around while Tapping if you feel it helps to move.

When you’ve finished Tapping the collarbone point you can start patting on the under arm point - the next point in the EFT Tapping sequence - pat firmly here about 20 times, then switch sides and repeat. This point helps with feeling grounded and clear-headed.

For help with calming heightened anxiety, you can join Ananga for a new Guided Tapping Video on Patreon

 

Grounding Techniques

Grounding techniques are one very effective way to use your body to stop your head spinning out in anxious thinking. You could try yoga, mindful walking, Tai chi, or swimming as ways of grounding yourself and drawing your mind away from anxiety about your breath and into awareness of the relaxing movement of your body.

By moving mindfully you bring your mind back into reality with full present moment awareness. This simple act of becoming aware of your movements relieves you of fears from the past and anxiety about the future by helping you settle into the here and now.

 

Mindful walking

Try walking while listening to the sounds around you, count your steps, feel your feet on the ground. Challenge yourself to see how much can you notice.

List some colors you can see.

List some sounds you can hear.

This will help divert your mind from fixating on your breathing while also calming anxiety.


 
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New on our Patreon

A guided relaxation for stress and anxiety relief from our Oasis album.

Listen & download here

We’d like to say a big thank you to everyone who’s supported the podcast on Patreon this month and to our new patrons Katy and April.

If you found this episode supportive, we hope you’ll consider becoming a patron! We have over 50 Anxiety Slayer downloads available on Patreon including our guided relaxations, Tapping Sessions and extra resources for calming your anxiety.

Learn more at patreon.com/anxietyslayer

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