Breathing Exercises For Anxiety (Hyperventilation Relief)

Hyperventilation And Its Symptoms

Many anxiety sufferers breathe too fast and shallow. When confronted with a feared scenario they breathe rapidly which leads to increased shortness of breath and further hyperventilation.

Anxiety Symptoms

The most common symptoms are:

  • Dizziness
  • Lightheadedness
  • Lump in the throat
  • Fatigue
  • Poor concentration
  • Choking sensation
  • Difficulty swallowing
  • Racing heart
  • Shaking
  • Blurred vision
  • Shortness of breath
  • Chest pain
  • Disorientation
  • Tingly sensations  or numbness in the hands, feet, and mouth

People who chronically breathe too fast tend to sigh often, take deep breaths and feel short of breath.

Slow breathing can relieve anxiety and prevent you from having a panic attack if you do it as soon as you notice yourself over-breathing or becoming anxious. Socially phobic and panicky people are advised to slow their breathing before tackling a feared situation or at any time they feel anxious.

Simple Breathing Technique For Anxiety

When you are first learning this breathing exercise you may find it easiest to practice lying flat on your back, knees bent, feet flat on the floor and eight inches apart. Place one hand on your chest and one hand on your abdomen.

  1. Hold your breath and count to 10.
  2. Then breathe out and think’ relax’ to yourself.
  3. Then inhale slowly through your nose for 3 seconds. The hand on your abdomen should rise whilst the hand on your chest should stay relatively still.
  4. Then exhale through your mouth for three seconds, making a whooshing noise as you breathe out. Think “RELAX” as you exhale. The hand on your abdomen should fall as you exhale.
  5. After a minute of breathing in and out in a six-second cycle, hold your breath again for 10 seconds
  6. Keep repeating this process for 5 minutes.

Once you feel you have mastered the technique lying down, then start practicing slow breathing whilst sitting or standing. Then you will be able to do slow breathing to relax yourself wherever you are in public.

Do this deep breathing for 20 minutes a day and any time when you feel yourself becoming anxious. Depending upon your commitments you might need to break up your 20 minutes during the day into 4 x 5 minutes relaxation segments or 2 x 10-minute relaxation segments.

Breathing exercises can help with a variety of anxiety issues such as a fear of public speaking, however, they are only part of the work needed to cure your anxiety. Contact our team of Melbourne psychologists at 03 9819 3671 and book an appointment today.


PSYCHOLOGIST – Catherine Madigan 


Catherine Madigan (B.A. Hons., M.A. (Clinical Psychology), M.A.P.S.

Catherine Madigan is a Melbourne Clinical psychologist who specialises in the treatment of social anxiety. She offers a group cognitive behavioral therapy program for social anxiety sufferers. Catherine has been offering this group program for over 8 years and has conducted these groups for both the public mental health system and as part of her private practice. Catherine’s work with social anxiety sufferers has been featured in the most prestigious Australian publications, with the Commonwealth Rehabilitation Service and job placement agencies having referred clients to ‘Overcoming Shyness and Social Anxiety’.


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The ‘Overcoming Shyness & Social Anxiety’ program teaches cognitive therapy and relaxation techniques (e.g. slow breathing, isometric relaxation) and provides the opportunity for participants to role-play their feared social situations (exposure therapy).

Reserve your seat for the program today (Only 8 seats are available per program).