Waiting to hear about the job you really want? Tight deadline for filing that report? Extended family coming to stay and you have to fit 12 people into three rooms? And even when you do, what are you going to feed them all?

It can so easily feel like one thing is just piling on top of another and you are sinking under the weight of it all. 

Stop! We all have anxious moments, but the key is how you cope with them.


When you’re consumed by worry, self-doubt or completely overwhelmed, it can be hard to pull yourself out of it. It can send you into a downward spiral.

Often, in times like these, your breathing will become quick and shallow, which can lead to hyperventilation and sometimes, panic attacks. It is normal and many people suffer from anxiety so you are in good (albeit agitated) company. It is now that you need breathing exercises for anxiety.

Although it doesn’t feel like it, you can control your anxiety with breathing exercises. It takes practice, but the benefits are worth it so why not give these a try:

4 – 7 – 8 Breathing 

If you’re stressed this exercise is great. Known as the ‘Four Seven Eight’ and can be done anywhere.

  1. 1. Breathe in through your nose for 4 seconds;
  2. 2. Hold for 7 seconds;
  3. 3. Breathe out through your mouth for 8 seconds;
  4. 4. Repeat 4 times.

Mindfulness Breathing

Things getting on top of you? Take a 5 minute break and go somewhere quiet.

  1. 1. If you can, lie down on the floor, but if not, sitting in a chair will work just as well as long as you keep your spine straight. 
  2. 2. Close your eyes and breathe in through your nose (long breaths but don’t strain your chest);
  3. 3. Again with long breaths, breathe out through your mouth;
  4. 4. Whilst doing this, focus on the sound of your breaths and the feeling of your chest rising and falling.

Taking in more oxygen encourages your muscles to relax and you will feel calmer.

Breathing exercises for anxiety_2

Deep Abdominal Breathing

Short of breath? This exercise works by contracting the diaphragm. It forces the body to revert to its natural, relaxed form of breathing.

  1. 1. Place one hand just above your belt line, and the other on your chest, right over the breastbone; 
  2. 2. Open your mouth and gently sigh, letting your shoulders and the muscles in your upper body relax down with the exhale;
  3. 3. Close your mouth and pause for a few seconds;
  4. 4. Keeping your mouth closed, inhale slowly through your nose by pushing your stomach out and hold for a few seconds;
  5. 5. Breathe out slowly by pulling your stomach muscles in – this moves your diaphragm up and pushes the air out of your lungs;
  6. 6. Pause and repeat 4 times.

It is best to practice these exercises when you’re in a relaxed state. Why?

Because mastering them when you are calm and thinking straight will mean you can call on these invaluable skills when you need to.

Remember that old adage: ‘When the going gets rough, the rough get tough” (and breathe!). 


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