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Steve Pavilanis, author of A Life Less AnxiousSteve Pavilanis
Blogs about anxiety and panic, written by a former panic patient.

How to Slow Down Your Racing Heartbeat When Feeling Anxious

Steve Pavilanis Updated: Jan 19th 2010

One of the most common and frightening symptoms of anxiety is a racing heartbeat.  When I was suffering from frequent panic attacks, my heart would beat so furiously that I worried I was having a heart attack.  The following technique can be used to help calm yourself down and return your heartbeat to a more normal pace when feeling anxious.

It all starts with a deep breath...

girl breathingWhen you feel overwhelmed with anxiety, take a very deep breath through your mouth and hold it in.  While continuing to hold your breath, flex or tense every muscle throughout your body as intensely as you can.  Feel every inch of your body tremble from the strain.  Continue squeezing your muscles for 5-10 seconds, and then immediately relax every muscle as you slowly exhale through your nose.

As you exhale you will feel an incredible release of tension and stress throughout your body.  Your heartbeat will slow to a more natural and relaxed pace as does your breathing, which helps to calm you down.

Breathe normally for the next minute or so and then repeat this exercise.  Doing just one or two iterations is often enough to provide tremendous relief.

I’ve used this technique to overcome panic attacks when flying, stuck in traffic, and before public speaking.  It helps provide immediate relief and can snap you out of an anxious state of mind.  When anxiety arises, give it a try.


Steve Pavilanis

Steve Pavilanis is a normal everyday guy who suffered from extreme social anxiety and panic attacks for over five years. With great determination, research, and trial and error, he has taken his life back, returning to a healthy state of wholeness and optimism. Steve now helps others through their struggles with his book, "A Life Less Anxious: Freedom from panic attacks and social anxiety without drugs or therapy", speaking, coaching, and blog.

From his own experience of overcoming debilitating anxiety, Steve shows you how to calm yourself using proven mental and physical techniques including meditation, avoid common faulty thinking traps, make life changes that encourage a more peaceful mind, and how to face and overcome your fears and achieve more freedom in your life. For more information please visit

Reader Comments
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Anxiety attacks caused by mouth breathing! - Lianda Ludwig - Feb 26th 2010

I took a class in Buteyko breathing, I learned that you can actually cause an anxiety attack by breathing in and out through your mouth! Just the act of closing your mouth, and breathing only through your nose can help you get back in control. Fascinating, and it works.

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