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How Breathing Affects Feelings

Normal, anxious, and exercise breathing have significant effects upon our physiology and our emotions. This information handout explains the physiological effects associated with different breathing types, and provides instructions for relaxaed breathing.

Anxious clients are often unaware of the profound physiological effects related to breathing. How Breathing Affects Feelings is an information sheet which gives a clear description of the causes and consequences of hyperventilation. It outlines what happens to blood oxygenation levels when we breathe normally, when we exercise, and when we breathe in an anxious way. Finally, it also includes a calm diaphragmatic breathing exercise designed to stimulate the parasympathetic nervous system and to promote relaxation and soothing. Use this information sheet with clients who are anxious, or with any clients who would benefit from learning a soothing and grounding skill and understanding why breathing calmly is so important.

This is a Psychology Tools information handout. Suggested uses include:

  • Client handout – use as a psychoeducation resource
  • Discussion point – use to provoke a discussion and explore client beliefs
  • Therapist learning tool – improve your familiarity with a psychological construct
  • Teaching resource – use as a learning tool during training

Cannon, W. B. (1920). Bodily changes in pain, hunger, fear, and rage. D. Appleton & Company. archive.org

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