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3 Breathing Techniques for Coping With Anxiety

Anxiety can come in many forms.

Panic attacks, generalized anxiety, social anxiety, social phobias, and more.

It’s important to learn how to cope with anxiety when it presents itself, or it can become a burden, and make functioning in your daily life quite difficult.

One coping technique I have come to rely on with my anxiety, whether I am having a panic attack, or I am just overwhelmed from a long day at work, is breathing.

Thankfully, there are ways we can control our breathing during an episode, to help with calming and relaxation.

1.) Box/Square Breathing – 

This technique is something my counselor recently shared with me, and it has been a great help.

First, sit comfortably in a chair, close your eyes and imagine a square. Use your finger to draw the shape of the square in the “air” in front of you, while you picture it in your mind.

Close your mouth and inhale slowly through your nose as you count four beats. Then, hold your breath for four seconds. Open your mouth and exhale slowly as you count in your head, four beats. Hold the exhale another four beats. Repeat.

You should trace each line of the square each time you inhale, exhale or hold your breath.

Focusing on the shape, and the breath will help you to relax and relieve the tension or anxiety you are feeling.

2.) Alternate Nostril Breathing (Nadi Shodhana) – 

This next technique is often practiced in yoga.

Benefits can include – stress relief, balancing of energy, removal of toxins, and much more!

To practice this technique,

Sit tall, in a comfortable seated position. To begin, take a deep breath through both nostrils, inhaling and exhaling.

Place your right thumb over your right nostril to close it, and inhale through the left nostril slowly.

Hold your breath at the top of the inhale.

Open your right nostril and release the breath slowly through the right side while covering the left with your ring finger.

Inhale through the right side slowly.

Hold both nostrils closed (with ring finger and thumb).

Open your left nostril and release breath slowly through the left side. Pause briefly at the bottom.

Repeat the cycle until calm and relaxed. 

3.) 4-7-8 Breathing Technique

If you’re looking for a very simple and easy way to relax yourself after a stressful day or during a panic attack, this breathing technique will take you there in no time.

To practice this technique:

Exhale completely through your mouth until all of the air is expelled.

Close your mouth and inhale quietly through your nose to for four seconds.

Hold your breath for seven seconds.

Exhale completely through your mouth, making a whooshing sound as you release the air, for eight seconds.

Using these simple breathing techniques may bring you peace, relief from stress and anxiety and a sense of calm.



Photo by Vitorio Benedetti

3 Breathing Techniques for Coping With Anxiety

Caiti Gearsbeck

Caitlin is an advocate for mental health awareness and suicide prevention and lives with a diagnosis of Bipolar Disorder. She is passionate about spreading awareness and sharing her story and hopes to help others living with mental illness feel less alone in their journey.

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APA Reference
Gearsbeck, C. (2018). 3 Breathing Techniques for Coping With Anxiety. Psych Central. Retrieved on July 4, 2020, from


Last updated: 21 Apr 2018
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