It started slowly at first – my heart would begin to race when I’d check my inbox, my chest would feel tight during meetings at work, and I’d feel lightheaded when faced with minor decisions throughout my day. I initially brushed off these feelings as normal responses to everyday stress. But over time, the anxiety grew worse and began to significantly impact my life.
What used to be manageable worry spiraled into near-constant dread and fear. My thoughts raced uncontrollably. I struggled to concentrate at my corporate management job. Interactions with friends and loved ones became strained and difficult. My sleep suffered from relentless rumination and panic. It was exhausting mentally, emotionally and physically. I realized my unchecked anxiety had developed into a real issue that was not going away on its own.
In searching for ways to cure my anxiety, I discovered numerous tips for managing symptoms – exercise more, improve your diet, try therapy and medications. But one suggestion stood out for its simplicity and promised effectiveness: deep breathing.
The logic was clear. Anxiety manifests in the body through rapid, shallow breathing as the nervous system goes into overdrive. Deep breathing sends signals to the brain to calm down and relax. It seemed almost too basic to make a difference for my intense anxiety. Then again, it required no expensive treatments or significant lifestyle overhaul. After digging into the research and finding it is backed by science, I decided to give it try.
When I began my new deep breathing ritual, I’ll admit it felt uncomfortable at first. Taking slower, controlled breaths was challenging with my heart pounding. But I started small – 5 to 10 minutes per day focusing on long, steady inhalations and exhalations to counteract my normally anxious breathing. I found some days easier than others. Things like work stressors, lack of sleep or too much coffee could make it harder for me to tap into a relaxed breathing pace.
Over time and consistent practice, the awareness of my breath became second nature. My lungs and mind craved that calming, steady oxygen flow. I gradually was able to achieve a lower heart rate and put space between my anxiety triggers and reactions. Deep breathing gave me the power to actively slow down and gain perspective when faced with stressful situations.
Now months later, I credit this simple self-care habit with curing my severe anxiety. While I still experience nervousness or worry like anyone, gone are the days of unmanaged panic hijacking my life. Deep breathing unlocked within me a sense of inner peace and control. My mind calms itself knowing that despite what is happening around me, I can choose composure and tranquility with some deep inhales and exhales.
I encourage anyone struggling with their mental health to give mindful breathing a try. Find just 5 to 10 minutes in your day and observe the shift that comes from oxygenating your body and brain. Be consistent and patient with yourself in building this skill. But go into the practice knowing its potential and how curative just breathing can be. It remains one of the most powerful antidotes we have access to anytime, anywhere – no prescription required.