Having Trouble Breathing from Anxiety? These Tricks Can Help!

Anxiety is as common as wildflowers. Almost everyone will experience some form of anxiety at least once in their lives, while many others will suffer the grips of anxiety as an ongoing disorder. If you fall into the latter group, then you may be at a loss for how to keep your cool and catch your breath in your most anxious moments.

Trouble breathing is a common symptom of anxiety. Other anxiety symptoms include:

  • rapid heart rate
  • sweating
  • butterflies in the stomach
  • tightening of chest muscles (frequently mistaken as heart problems)
  • tremors or shaking
  • loss of appetite
  • diarrhea (upset stomach)

While these symptoms are all unpleasant. Breathing can be the trickiest one of them all. It initiates a positive feedback loop in which the more you have difficulty breathing the worse your anxiety gets and the worse your breathing gets. If you ever fear that you truly can’t breath, then always call 9-1-1. Hopefully, you can use the following tools to help you calm your anxiety and breathing before that happens.

Having Trouble Breathing from Anxiety? These Tricks Can Help!

Tools to Cope with Trouble Breathing

These tools approach breathing troubles from a variety of angles.

1. Deep Breathing

Classic deep breaths. You can’t go wrong with a simple inhale and exhale. Deep breaths are appropriate for the times when you feel an anxiety attack coming on and you want to head it off.

Use classic deep breaths when you feel like you still have some amount of control over your breathing. It’s even more useful when you have someone else doing it with you, because then you can mimic them.

How To…

Take a deep breath in your through your nose for six seconds, hold for two to three seconds, and then exhale for six seconds through pursed lips. These anxiety breathing techniques can also help when you feel anxiety-related breathing troubles coming on.

2. Breathe in Relaxation, Breathe out Anxiety

If you’d like to actively create a state of relaxation in your body, then this form of deep breathing gives you that control. It also helps to create space around the energy of anxiety in your body as you replace it with a state of relaxation.

How To…

Breathe in through your nose for six seconds (as above) as you think to yourself, “Breathe in relaxation.” Then breathe out through pursed lips as you think, “Breathe out anxiety.”

You can replace the words “anxiety” and “relaxation” with any polarities. If your anxiety is spurred on by fear, sadness or anger, then replace anxiety with the prime emotion. And choose opposite feeling words to replace relaxation, like love, joy, peace or happiness.

3. Visualization

Sometimes controlling your breathing feels too far out of reach in the moment. The next best thing you can do is to direct your thoughts away from your trouble breathing to a better image. Visualize yourself in a relaxed state. Think of your happy place.

It’s beneficial to have a pre-planned visualization or happy place for this tool to work. Otherwise, in the moment you’ll be struggling to think of anything.

How To…

Close your eyes, and visualize the image in your mind. It can be an image of you breathing normally, happy on the beach or singing to your favorite song. Whatever will fill you with peace. Use your thoughts to actively construct the image, so you’re using more faculties to focus on it.

As you internally narrate your image, notice when your body starts to relax enough for you to work with your breathing.

4. Cool Cloth

The cool cloth tool can be used when you’re feeling so lost internally that you need to be reconnected with your body. It’s similar to how your breath works. Your breath helps to ground your energy into the here and now, into your body. A cool cloth can do the same thing. It’s great for when your breathing feels out of control.

How To…

Wet a cloth with cool water, the colder the better. Wash your face with the cloth starting with your eyes. Wipe each eyebrow, applying pressure as you go. Wash across the top of the forehead as you push into the points right above your eyebrows. This small movement will help to redirect energy and blood into the frontal lobe of your brain and help reduce anxiety.

Then wash your cheeks, nose, chin. Follow up with washing the tragus of each ear, and then wipe behind each ear. There are acupressure points in these locations that will help awaken your energy in your body.

Finally, run the cool cloth down the back of your neck. Let the cloth rest at the base of your neck. Then place one hand at the top of your head and then run it down the back of your head to your neck and then to the top the spot where your neck meets your shoulders, where the cloth is resting. Apply some pressure as you do this. This action brings energy out of your mind and down to your spine to run into your lower body.

Images via Thinkstock


Ruth S
Ruth S4 months ago


Glennis W
Glennis W4 months ago

Very informative Thank you for caring and sharing

Glennis W
Glennis W4 months ago

Great information and advice

Glennis W
Glennis W4 months ago

Very interesting article Thank you for caring and sharing

Chrissie R
Chrissie R4 months ago

If your anxiety is this physically symptomatic you should get some professional advice.

Danuta W
Danuta W4 months ago

thanks for sharing

Mona M
Mona M4 months ago

thank you, I will share some of your good advice with asthmatic patients.

Peggy B
Peggy B4 months ago


Angeles Madrazo
Angeles Madrazo4 months ago

Thank you

hELEN h4 months ago