Are Breathing Exercises for Anxiety a Waste of Time?
Photo by Xanetia
Anyone who’s suffered from anxiety knows that it’s an all encompassing feeling that makes you want to run if you're out, or stay in if you're not. Then in addition to what it does to your mind, there are the very real physical symptoms of a pounding heart, gasping for air, sweating, shaking, and even feeling like you might pass out.
When you experience the full force of a panic attack and you are looking for help, you want something that feels like it respects and matches the scale of your anxiety. Anxiety is a big issue, so you want a big solution. Something that sounds like it can match that force, that life altering awful experience. Something that isn't new age, or old hat.
And that's way many anxiety sufferers don't want to try breathing exercises for anxiety relief. It sounds too simple and too small for such a big problem. I know, I've been there...
Several years ago, I went to see my doctor because I was feeling unwell, I described my very real and life-spoiling symptoms and he looked at me and said “try breathing in a paper bag”. I left his surgery feeling deflated, patronised and hopeless. And yet, I later discovered that some breathing techniques helped me enormously in calming down and learning how to control anxiety.
With Respect and Guidance
It's important in helping others to overcome anxiety that we respect the reality of anxiety and rather than throwing out statements like "try deep breathing", or "make sure you eat a balanced diet" we offer proven solutions with care and support. Simple’s OK so long as it is a valid simple that proves it’s worth by genuinely helping to reduce anxiety.
Maybe if my doctor had spent a couple of minutes teaching me one effective breathing technique and crediting my intelligence with an explanation of how and why it worked, I would have felt very different. I would have felt understood and, armed with something to try that seemed to make sense. I would have given it a go, instead of feeling cynical due to his lack of empathy and his inability to impart supportive practical knowledge.
I'm currently working on a project that will share the best self-help anxiety tools I've learned over the last 20 years and yes, it will include some breathing techniques. Why? Because far from being vague and outdated, they can help you reduce anxiety and feel calm.
Breathing exercises for anxiety are valuable when taught properly with respect to the anxiety sufferer and guidance on how they work and how to get the best from them: and that's exactly what I intend to offer.
*UPDATE* Our new collection of breathing exercises for relief from stress and anxiety is now available in the iTunes Music Store...