Why do people keep telling me to breathe

I have anxiety. I don’t get panick attacks, you know, where you hyperventilate and feel like you’re having a heart attack.
Instead, I grow increasingly nervous and restless until I either have a meltdown or start dissociating.

When I tell people I have anxiety, they keep responding “try to breathe this and that way”.
And yes, when I used to have anxiety attacks, breathing would calm me down.
However I don’t feel like this kind of anxiety is helped by breathing.

Why is breathing people’s go-to with anxiety?


Because breathing can activate the parasympathic nervous system and help you relax.

Another strategy which also helps some people is to exercise. Movement is a great strategy too.


Listening to someone as they speak takes a consious effort, whereas breathing is an unconscious thing the body just does. It may feel insulting when someone tells you to do something you’ve automatically been doing your whole life.

Breathing helps. It is like a way to bring ur focus on something away from anxiety a bit. Temporarily…


It’s the whole mindfulness thing. Different ways of intentional breathing help with even minor anxiety.


I don’t have panic attacks, but diaphragmatic breathing helps me a lot. It slows my thoughts so they aren’t as rapid fire. I also find that maybe the oxygen to my brain helps me think a little clearer.

I find the deep breathing is most effective when I can get ahead of the anxiety, just like the idea when you’re trying to get ahead of pain with a headache. But it still helps when I’m over the edge as well.

I like to do box breathing, which is breathe in 4, hold for 4, breathe out 4, hold for 4, and repeat.

If you can stand doing this for at least 5 minutes, I bet you’d feel a little better.


I also have anxiety and breathing doesn’t help me overcame it quickly.

But there are a few meds that help me, which are ethyl loflazepate 2mg - I chew one and in a second my crippling anxiety goes away, the other one which I use when I don’t have the 1st is bromazepam, which takes more time to do the desired effects(like 20 minutes or so) and also helps me get rid of anxiety too

The 1st one is really good, although here you need a prescription.

When your brain is very focused on breathing, it has less room to think about anxieties. Also, like @Jonathan2 said, it activates the parasympathetic nervous system, which sends signals to your entire body that there is no danger and it is time to calm down.

When you say it doesn’t help this type of anxiety, I get that. Sometimes, I have the type of anxiety where what will help is talking about my anxieties so I can see what the worst case scenario is and know I am prepared for the possibility of it happening. Sometimes, what I need is to have a distraction from my thoughts, and I am so good at breathing exercises by now that they don’t distract me at all. The 54321 method really helps in that situation, and so does doing a guided meditation video, but those take a bit longer.

Do you want me to leave the list of other ways to calm down, or do you not need them right now?


I appreciate it, but I don’t know what I need.
I need to rant. I need to cry.
I need to find a reason to get up tomorrow

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Some things I do to calm down are:

Put an ice pack on the back of your head. This will cool down your brain and reduce activity in your limbic system, where emotions happen.

Do a task with simple, clear steps. I like baking. I follow the recipe, and it’s easy enough that I don’t get frustrated, but it requires enough concentration that I don’t have room to think about other things. Cleaning also helps.

Engage your five senses. This will remind you what is real and what isn’t. Listen to soothing music. Smell something pleasant, like an essential oil. Suck on a hard candy. Look at pictures of things you enjoy. Feel something with an interesting texture, like a piece of Velcro or a stress ball.

Try to levitate something with your mind. You obviously won’t succeed, but it gets you to focus all of your attention on a single point outside your body, instead of on your thoughts. I like to use this on airplanes or in public places, because it doesn’t require you to move at all. It looks like you’re just daydreaming to observers.

Listen to a guided meditation recording

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The 54321 method really helps in that situation,

My EAP therapist recommended this recently since my anxiety and stress levels have been very high recently.

Well, it’s better than the alternative.

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So long as it works, we can listen good.

Excersise is a great way to stress down. Like jog or use a ellipse machine for 30 minues two times a week or more can make the body feel balanced. I recently started myself and it has a serious impact on relieving stress and anxiety.

If you dare to try it for a couple of weeks you will see. Ellipse is good if you are overweight like me. It is gentle on knees and leggings. I bought a machine to have at home. Good investment it seems.

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