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Why tell someone with anxiety "just breathe" is not always helpful



If you have ever gone to therapy or are experiencing anxiety or stress, you probably understand the importance of breathing carefully. Deep breathing can slow down and help you control your heart rate as well as calm your mind.

But just because breathing exercises can help some, it does not mean that this is a strategy for passing to everyone at any time of anxiety. Here, therapists who often see anxiety patients explain why inadvertently telling someone to "take a deep breath" is sometimes not a solution or even helpful:

This may come off as condescending or dismissive

a California-based therapist, says that people often have knee-jerk reactions to someone else's anxiety and reflexively want to stop him from assuming they are helping.

"Sometimes, when someone is anxious, it's not the right time to say 'Take a deep breath,'" Goldman says. "You have in mind that their sensation is wrong and that it is time to calm down, with some easy fixes. But sometimes we are not ready or even want to be "outside" of any emotions. "

This is especially important with stigmatized emotions such as anxiety, she noted, because it can create shame around a valid feeling. Plus, being in a hurry to suppress emotion can have unwanted consequences.

"We want to make sure that we process and honor the feeling we have. When we push the feeling down, it tends to come back later, "Goldman says.

You can actually aggravate your anxious thoughts

. according to New York-based therapist Raquel Jones. "So you say, 'Take a deep breath and you'll be fine.' But suppose a person does this and they are wrong, then what?"

The worrying thing is, if you feel like what you have tried, it doesn't work, then this makes you think, "Well, nothing works out and everything goes wrong," and you go down the rabbit hole with a negative mindset, Jones added. "

Deep breaths may not be the best breathing technique for this person." ] There are many different breathing exercises to soothe your body and mind, because, as Goldman explained, "not all of them resonate with everyone." So while some may benefit from deep, even breaths, others can not.

Goldman added that some people may prefer the "counting breath" where you slowly inhale at number three, hold it for one, and exhale for five. Others, she said, may benefit from inhaling your nose and exhaling your mouth, or vice versa. Goldman also noted that you may be better off practicing these techniques for the first time with a therapist. By telling someone to take a deep breath, you can advocate for a technique that may not help.

They may find themselves in a situation where deep breathing is simply not helpful from driving or other activity requiring full attention for safety reasons.

Goldman stated that controlled breathing takes a lot of focus. The idea is to think only of your breathing patterns so you can calm your mind and clear yourself of anxiety. But if your anxiety is triggered by driving, you can't engage in grounding exercises exactly while behind the wheel. If you are focused on counting your breath, you may miss a traffic light or get distracted on the road.

Jones added that you may need to be able to pull your car to practice breathing exercises: "Because what can you do? You are already on the road So you need to prepare before you even get in this car. "

You may not be the right person to deliver the message

" I often think what happens when someone tells their friends "just breathe" is that they start to have anxiety about their friend ", said Goldman. And if you are also in an anxious or agitated state, you may not be able to help anyone else calm down. Goldman continued, "Your connection to the person you are trying to help with matters, too," she added. and to be ready to accept the intervention, he must trust the person who helps them too.

What to do when a loved one is feeling extremely anxious

This is all not No I can say that breathing exercises are not fundamentally important tools when it comes to anxiety. with getting oxygen, helping them breathe is from the dec vashto matter.

But if you tell someone to take a deep breath, it's late, you can offer a lot of support instead. Goldman suggested simply telling someone at an alarming moment that you were there for them and with them, or asking them if they would like to try to breathe together instead of demanding it. Jones says that journaling can also be an effective way of dealing with anxiety.

"I also do grounding exercises," Jones added. "You close your eyes, put your hands on your knees, and try to do some meditation or visualization where you want to think somewhere where you are at peace."

After all, if you can offer support without telling anyone what they have to do, you will be much more help to someone at an anxious moment.


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