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How to Control Anxiety with 1 Easy Breathing Technique

The only person you are destined to become is the person you decide to be - Ralph Waldo Emerson

Anxiety can be truly debilitating, having an impact on nearly every part of our lives. Through the story of Kelly, learn how to control anxiety with one easy breathing technique.

Reclaim your life from anxiety

When Kelly had her first anxiety attack, she was standing in line having her photograph taken for a school photo. You know the sort, where they take lots of photographs and ‘knit them together’ later on to form one long picture.

It was a very hot day and Kelly began to get dizzy. Her heart started pounding, her hands felt clammy and her legs became weak and wobbly.

Kelly couldn’t understand what was happening. Was it a heart attack brought on by the heat? In any event, she felt sure she would certainly pass out and embarrass herself in front of all her friends.

Led away by a teacher who had spotted her distress, Kelly was taken up to hospital where tests revealed no physical problem. Her doctor thought it was a panic attack. Sure enough, the ‘attacks’ got more frequent and Kelly became more and more distressed about the anxiety symptoms which were now starting to dominate her thoughts and restrict how she lived her life. It seemed she just couldn’t control the anxiety.

Why do panic attacks start?

Kelly eventually went along to a coach who was confident she could help.

‘Why did I start getting these?’ said Kelly tearfully. ‘This time last year I didn’t have this problem.’

‘Panic or anxiety attacks often start when you’re feeling stressed. What was going on in your life when you had your first attack?’ asked the coach.

Kelly thought for a while. ‘I remember it was just after exams, end of term. I needed good results to get to college….and my boyfriend had just dumped me!’

‘That sounds like a lot of what I would call ‘background stress.” explained the coach.

But what do I do about it? I can’t go on like this.’ said Kelly.

‘Have you heard about diaphragmatic breathing?’ asked the coach.

‘No’ said Kelly. What is it?

Learn to control anxiety with diaphragmatic breathing

The coach showed Kelly how to slow her breathing and how to breath from lower down. ‘It’s to do with the relaxation response.’1 she said.

‘When you slow your breathing, you calm down the body and the mind and that will control the anxiety.’

Kelly sat with her coach for several minutes with one hand on her chest and the other resting lightly on her tummy, noticing how she could allow her breathing to become slower and deeper. After a while, she noticed feeling calmer and more relaxed than she’d been in months.

‘Diaphragmatic breathing really is the short cut to control anxiety. Practise this for ten minutes every day and see what happens to the panic attacks.’ suggested the coach.

Kelly returned the following week with good news.

‘None at all this week’, she announced brightly. ‘The anxiety seems to have disappeared.’

‘Looks like you’ve learned how to breath the stress away.’ said the coach. ‘Now, is there anything else I can help you with?’

‘Well, about that boyfriend…’ began Kelly.

Have you tried diaphragmatic breathing as a way to control anxiety? Let us know below…

Frances Masters

Frances Masters is a BACP accredited psychotherapist with over 30,000 client hours of experience. Follow her @fusioncoachuk, or visit The Integrated Coaching Academy for details about up coming training.