We often identify the physical symptoms of anxiety more readily than the psychological symptoms — so they are often the easiest to change. One of those prominent physical symptoms is breathing. We feel a shortness of breath when anxious, like we can’t breathe normally or can’t catch our breath.
A simple breathing exercise you can practice at home can help alleviate this feeling of shortness of breath.
- In a comfortable chair, sit with your back straight but your shoulders relaxed. Put one hand on your stomach and the other hand on your chest, so that you can feel how you breathe while practicing the exercise.
- Close your mouth, and inhale slowly and deeply through your nose while counting slowly up to 10. You may not make it to 10 when you first try this exercise, so you can start with a smaller number like 5 first.
- As you count, notice the sensations of your body while inhaling. Your hand on your chest shouldn’t move, but you should notice your hand on your stomach rising.
- When you reach 10 (or 5), hold your breath for 1 second.
- Then, exhale slowly through your mouth while counting out 10 seconds (or 5 if you’re just starting). Feel the air pushing out of your mouth, and the hand on your stomach moving in.
- Continue the exercise, breathing in through your nose and out through your mouth. Focus on keeping a slow and steady breathing pattern. Practice at least 10 times in a row.
The more you do this, the more you learn to control your breathing — which you thought was uncontrollable — on your own.
Source: http://psychcentral.com/lib/social-anxiety- disorder-treatment/2/