Does it work?
As I sat scrolling through Facebook, I glimpsed a post from a friend denouncing deep breathing. She stated that it doesn’t work. Usually, I would have given it no thought as comments on social media do not easily trigger me. Then I remember one of my teenage mentees explaining that deep breathing helps her in some situations but is unsuccessful in others. I quickly used her experience as a teaching moment as I, too, have said this a time or two to myself in the beginning stage of learning the technique. Deep breathing is a technique that not only requires practice and patience it also has many benefits. This profound statement is significant to the results that we received during applying coping methods to anxiety. Yet, this sentiment is not uncommon for those who have applied it every time and yield some results some of the time. My explanation is simple: when you have a cut or a scratch, you use a bandaid; however, a bandaid on a puncture wound will not yield the same result. The damage is more extensive than the adhesive.
Likewise, if you are having an intense day at work or nervous in an exam, deep breathing may work for you as it helps to put your body in a relaxed state, helps to improve muscle stability. You can take it up a notch and add coping skills such as performing guided imagery by visualizing a place that brings peace to you, like the beach or the park, or challenges irrational thoughts.
Furthermore, deep breathing is a recommended coping skill to help with anxiety. It is a profound skill achieved with practice, patience, and knowledge of why you are performing the act or what you hope to gain from doing so. For those who say I do deep breathing and it didn’t work, it didn’t start working the way it should for me for four months of being consistent and purposeful. I would do it on and off one day this week, one day the next month when I needed it, and I was discouraged as I expected it to work, then when I needed it, it does not work.
It wasn’t until I decided that if this profound breathing thing is going to work that I need to invest patience, time, and practice. It was hard for me as my mind never rested once I resolved an issue; I was on to the next and the next. My brain and mind don’t take a rest. It was hard for my body to keep up. Now, if deep breathing doesn’t work, assess the intensity of your emotions, the magnitude of the situation, and try what does work. Coping skills are not universal, the same as therapy and treatment plans.