Anxiety breath

Story By: Nat Nat

ReachOut Reporter Nat describes her approach to Generalised Anxiety Disorder, and the importance of breathing and meditation.

Girl getting her feet wet by the ocean
I felt constantly afraid, and I became a nervous wreck. I was experiencing strong chest and back pains and serious stomach problems.
I can't really recall a time in my life when I didn't feel some sort of anxiety – I've always been a bit of a worry wart and Mum deemed me queen of "what if" thoughts when I was growing up. But I never realised I could be suffering from a Generalised Anxiety Disorder.

That was until I was 18. One ordinary day I was finishing off uni assignments when I experienced my first serious supraventricular tachycardia attack, a heart condition where the heart beats violently out of control. My heart rate reached 240 beats per minute that day. I felt extreme discomfort in my chest, couldn't breathe and ended up needing an ambulance. In the emergency ward I was injected with a particularly unpleasant drug known among the medical staff as the "doom drug" in order to settle my heart rate.

As you can imagine, I was very shaken by what happened and over the next month my body was thrown into a very upset state. I felt constantly afraid, and I became a nervous wreck. I was experiencing strong chest and back pains and serious stomach problems.

Getting help

We tried the doctors, a naturopath, an acupuncturist, a massage therapist, counsellor, a chiropractor, yoga, meditation, self-help books, diets and even hypnotherapy. Each of these avenues, along with the support of family and friends played an important part in my recovery. It took a while, but I stayed committed to getting better and regaining control over my life. And eventually, I found a solution that works for me.

Coping strategies

Now if I suffer a panic attack I use a technique taught to me by my counsellor where I breathe in for 3 counts and exhale for 6 counts. A steady breath is truly an anchor and can do wonders for nervous feelings. Another technique he taught me is replacing my negative thoughts with more positive or realistic thoughts, this has been a major help.

I also practice yoga twice a week and some meditation where I consciously relax each of the muscles in my body. Adequate sleep, exercise and healthy eating are also important in keeping me balanced and on top of my anxiety. 

It can be tiresome trying so many things, but once you find what works for you, I promise you it's worth it!

What's your anxiety strategy?

Visit our online forums to learn how others manage their anxiety or share your best tips.

Last reviewed: 27 October, 2015
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