Having anxiety is natural. All of us get anxiety sometimes, and that’s nothing to be ashamed of.
However, anxiety can sometimes lead us to react in destructive ways. We might shout at a loved one, say something we regret, or even find ourselves totally out of control. In those situations, it’s important to manage our anxiety as best as possible. You can feel anxious and still make choices you’re proud of. All it takes is the right techniques. A great place to start is a breathing exercise that calms you down fast.
Breathing exercises to manage anger and anxiety
Most likely, someone has encouraged you to “take a deep breath” when you’re feeling anxious or angry. They’re on the right track, but a single breath doesn’t do very much.
Instead, you need to use a strategy called “box breathing.” Box breathing activates your body’s parasympathetic nervous system, which is the system that’s responsible for helping you rest and relax. That’s a fancy way of saying it hits your body’s “chill out” button.
So how does it work? Well, you need to split your breathing into four different parts (the four sides of the “box.”) There’s the inhale, a pause while you hold your breath, the exhale, and then a pause before you inhale again.
Each time you travel around the box, slow down just a little. In other words, make every inhale a little deeper, hold your breath a little longer, etc. Go at the pace you’re comfortable with – there’s no need to rush.
As you keep making trips around the box, your breathing will eventually slow all the way down. You’ll start to take long, slow breaths, kind of like you do when you’re sleeping. This will send a powerful signal to your body that it’s time to relax, and you’ll notice your muscles start to loosen and the anxiety start to release its grip on you. You might still feel anxious, but it won’t be so powerful, and you’ll have more room to make good choices.
Get expert anxiety management help
Of course, box breathing is just one strategy that can help with anxiety. If you struggle with anxiety, you would likely benefit from the chance to work with a well-qualified expert who can give you personalized strategies for managing your anxiety.