Can deep breathing make you feel worse?
What do you do in intense and challenging moments?
Recently, a client of mine shared a confusing experience that occurred on a rather stressful day. She had engaged in many meetings and conversations that had sky-rocketed her anxieties.
To help herself in reducing the pressure, she turned to lessons from famous wellness “gurus” – the ‘deep breathing’ technique.
Instead of helping her, the exercise actually worsened her stress and deepened her anxieties.
Upon seeing her puzzled face, I was unsurprised when she asked, “What did I do wrong? Surely, there must be a way I could’ve improved.”
This post is not about the topic of stress and anxiety – to learn about that in all its complexities, check out my book Awaken Your Inner Leader, sign up for my newsletters (and download my free Ultimate Guide to a Successful Personal Transformation) or contact me – but rather the ‘deep breathing’ technique that this client used.
Sometimes we assume that deep breathing will help when in fact it can actually worsen a situation.
Here is my suggestion for you to consider when you are dealing with a similar situation. Instead of forcing or manipulating your breath, ALLOW your breath to slow down as if you were to watch it in slow motion…as if you were really curious how your breath is slowing down.
Why don’t you do it right now as you read these lines: simply breathe in and allow your breath to start slowing down which watching how much air comes in, how far it goes but without any force or manipulation.
Then exhale, allowing your breath to flow out as you watch it and you allow it to slow down as if you wanted to capture every tiny moment.
Next time you’re in a difficult situation, I suggest you consider this ‘allowing’ breathing technique instead.
Remember: no manipulation, no force, and notice how it works for you. Let me know!