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HealthInfo Canterbury

Calming breathing techniques

Continued over-breathing can leave you feeling exhausted or on edge. This makes it more likely that you'll respond to stressful situations with extreme anxiety and panic. Gaining control over your breathing involves both slowing your breathing rate and changing your breathing style.

When you start, it may be difficult to slow your breathing down to this rate. If so, start with a rate of in for three, hold for one, breathe out for four.

When doing this, make sure you're "stomach breathing" rather than "chest breathing". Check this by placing one hand on your stomach and one hand on your chest. The hand on your stomach should rise when you breathe in.

Try to practise at least once a day, at a time when you can relax, relatively free from distraction. Try to set aside some time each day.

This technique can slow your breathing and reduce your general anxiety. It can even help to reduce your anxiety when you're in an anxious situation.

On the next page: Progressive muscle relaxation

Written by HealthInfo clinical advisers. Last reviewed April 2018.

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Page reference: 102479

Review key: HIRLT-102470