Does deep breathing make you feel more anxious?
We often get told that if we’re anxious, slowing down our breathing and breathing more deeply will help us calm down, and that’s absolutely true… but some people find that when they’re anxious and try to breath deeply, it actually makes them feel worse, not better.
So why is that?
Well, when we’re relaxed, we tend to breathe quite fully, using a large amount of our lung capacity each time we breathe in and out.
However, when we’re anxious, we tend to breathe very quickly and shallowly. Our lungs range between quite full and almost completely full, but never really empty.
That means that when we’re anxious, even after after we’ve breathed out, our lungs are largely full, and if we try to take a deep breath at this point, our lungs will quickly reach capacity. By then continuing to try and breathe in at this point in our effort to breathe deeply and help ourselves relax, we instead make ourselves feel really tense and anxious, thereby exacerbating our original anxiety rather than relieving it.
So what do we do about it? How do we calm ourselves down effectively?
The answer is simple.
We need to breathe out first - all the way out.
And when we do that, a deep breath in will naturally follow.
From there, it’s a whole lot easier, we can control our breathing a lot more easily, allowing us to slow it down, and breathe more deeply.
To demonstrate, I’ve put together the video above for you. Please watch what I do and try it with me, then see what happens.