How can I break the cycle of chronic anxiety?

In this week's podcast we're responding to this question from our inbox: "How can I break the cycle of chronic anxiety? I feel like it keeps circling round and round and I can't get out."

Notes from this episode:


First avoid anything that feeds your anxiety like stimulants:

Watch out for caffeine: coffee, tea, energy drinks, and some supplements

We have had letters from listeners telling us that their anxiety got better simply by cutting the caffeine from their life.


Next: Practice working with your breath

When you feel anxious bring your attention to your breathing.


Anxiety puts us in a stressed state that is running the flight or fight response - this makes breathing rapid and shallow.


It also increases your heart rate and can feed other anxiety symptoms - like feeling light-headed - by causing an oversupply of oxygen to your body.


The first step is to make your next exhalation long and slow. Sigh your breath out between your lips as if you were going to blow a candle out but make the breath last as long as you can.


This is a very effective make of getting your breathing is under control, and when you do these physical symptoms of anxiety will start to settle.


When you practice long exhale breathing you are sending a signal to your nervous system that you’re OK, you’re in control and your calming down.


Slow deep breathing puts the brakes on anxiety. But you need to remember to do this often. Keep noticing your breath when you feel anxious and practice long exhales.



Patient self-support is key



Further reading: