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What should I do if I end up crying, and I find myself struggling to breathe?

282 Answers
Last Updated: 04/23/2022 at 11:21pm
1 Tip to Feel Better
United States
Moderated by

Alex DS Ellis, MA, LMFT

Marriage & Family Therapist

Feeling depressed or anxious can be so overwhelming. I want to help you feel better and be able to enjoy life. You are not alone and you deserve emotional support.

Top Rated Answers
November 10th, 2018 12:16am
You should drink water and try to calm your breath by making a fist and concentrating on regulating your breath. And if you can't do that then just talk to someone who you think would help you. You can always come on this site and try to get help as well. And just remember it will all be okay in the end. Sadness doesn't last forever. There will come a time in future when you will laugh at this thinking how minor this problem was. I hope this helped you. :)
November 11th, 2018 4:22am
Begin with a breathing exercise to calm your breath and your mind as much as possible. A common one I see a lot is square breathing, where you breathe in for four counts, hold for four counts, breathe out for four counts, and hold again for four counts. You can also find other breathing exercises online to find one that helps you the most. Just continue to do the breathing exercise for a while until you are sure you are 100% calm so you do not start crying and fall back into that state again. Once you are calm, try and splash your face with cold water to reduce redness and also generally refresh yourself.
November 20th, 2018 1:54am
When I feel overwhelmed and find it hard to breath I do a 'List Game'. I list five things I can see, four things I can touch, three things I can hear, two thing I can smell and one thing you can taste. I find if I do this I'm forcing myself to live in the moment. It is very grounding. If I'm trying to find and list all these things (out loud) I don't have the chance let my mind run wild. this is a trick I have been using for many years and I can not think of a time were it didn't work.
February 15th, 2019 11:59pm
This happens frequently for me if I have breakdowns, but I have perfected some great ways to help you to get your breathing back under control! 1. Try to name the first 10 things that catch your eye. If you can say them out loud, then that helps even more, but if you can’t, then even just thinking them should help. 2. Try counting up to ten, then back down to one. While you are doing this try to take a breath in on odd numbers, and breathe out on odd ones. 3. Feel your heartbeat. I know this one sounds weird, but for me it helped remind me that I am in control of the situation. Hope this helped!
February 21st, 2019 5:28pm
Deep. Breaths. Stop thinking about anything for one moment, focus on your breathing. Take deep breaths -breathe in for 5 seconds. Hold it for 4. Slowly breathe out for 6. Keep doing this. Take your mind away from what's causing you pain - focus on our breathing. Close your eyes, try to feel your heartbeat, listen to the sound of air entering and exiting your nose, feel the surface you're sitting/standing/lying on. Don't think of anything - no what if's, what about's. Deep breaths. Hug a pillow, a pet, find a trusted loved one. It will be okay.
March 1st, 2019 7:32pm
Fist of all it's ok that you are crying this much, try to be kind to yourself. The best thing you can do is to take deep breaths, try to slow down and breath. If you cannot catch your breath try to slow your thoughts down, park them to one side. Find a way to sooth yourself. For example rubbing your own arm like someone else would to comfort you can make us feel comforted. This will help you slow down and be able to catch your breath again. Once you are able to take deep breaths a d focus on doing this. Be kind to yourself. It'd ok to be upset and you can be your own friend during this.
March 9th, 2019 12:49am
If you end up crying, there is no question to be asked here, you need to ask for help. Some "smaller" issues that occur from time to time may push you enough to make you tear up, and maybe they are issues you can deal with either by yourself or with friends, or even here on 7 Cups of Tea. However, if you start affecting your life too much, basically consuming you and affecting your physical health, please seek medical / professional as soon as you possibly can! You have people around you who care about you, even if they don't show it most of the time. Don't let them down, take care of your health.
March 23rd, 2019 8:54pm
Surely the same things don't work for every person, but right here on 7 cups there are self help, meditation and mindfulness exercises available for free. Some of those things include trying to distract yourself with something else like a task, and practicing being present in the moment. We spend so much time in the past and future, we can only act in the present but spend so little time there. Take a deep breath, and get your dishes washed, but train your mind to notice things with your senses, study the surface of the plate, the temperature of the water, the smell of your dish soap and be present in the moment. Sometimes after some mindfulness exercises you can quiet your anxiety long enough to see the situation that is causing you emotional distress a little clearer.
March 28th, 2019 10:32am
First of all, make sure you're not all alone. If something serious happens to you, it's important to have people around who could help you. Struggling to breath isn't something you should just ignore, it's important to consider it as a serious issue, even when it's caused by crying which is a pretty normal situation. Try calming yourself down. An important thing you could try is breathing exercises, they'll help you calm your breathing again. Another thing you could try is going outside, drink some water and get some fresh air. Breath in through your nose and out through your mouth. Don't panic or get worked up over your irregular breathing, it's a common thing that happens when crying and if you panic it will just get worse and worse. If you feel like you can't calm down or keep struggling please tell people around you what you feel, in some cases it could be serious and require the help from emergency services.
April 18th, 2019 2:18pm
From experience, it's good to clear your head as much as possible and think about a happy place or memory for you. It always tends to calm nerves a lot. You can also try to think about something that makes you laugh, if you can. And if all else fails, it's okay. Because you can just keep your head clear from negative thoughts whilst focusing on regulating your breathing. Another thing I suggest is closing your eyes whilst doing any of these. This will help you focus better, and will also calm your nerves as well. In my experience.
May 18th, 2019 2:22am
If you find yourself struggling to breathe, ie shorter, more shallow breaths, a good strategy is to try to breathe in for four seconds, hold in your breath for two seconds, and exhale for four seconds. When we find ourselves short of breath, it may be hard to do this technique, as we are not completely relaxed. Try grounding yourself first, by finding 5 things in the room you can see, 4 you can touch, 3 you can hear, 2 you can smell, and 1 you can taste. This helps bring us back into reality after not feeling very calm for a while.
June 23rd, 2019 4:06am
First of all , you need to get to someone quick. And if you’re not around someone then , try and calm yourself down. Take deep breaths. Don’t get overwhelmed , pray about it. Then if you feel like things aren’t getting any better, you should consider going to the Emergency Room. Don’t ever get yourself like that, because things can go bad. Keep yourself as stress as possible , don’t get upset about anything. If you do get upset, call someone & try & talk to them about it, maybe they will give you advice. Everything will be fine. Have a great day.
June 26th, 2019 9:33pm
You should always take a moment for yourself obviously. You should just take a moment to sit down and close your eyes and try to relax yourself. Then when you feel better, even if it’s after an hour, text back to your listener but don’t leave them hanging!! Tell them that you are going to take a minute for yourself and that you’ll be back. You are important to us and we will understand when you say that you’ll take a minute for yourself, whatever helps you is what makes us happy. We are here to help you and understand you.
July 24th, 2019 5:43pm
These are both signs of a panic attack. I struggle with anxiety myself. When you are struggling to breathe in those moments, hold your finger in front of you and imagine it is a re-lighting candle that you are trying to blow out. Gently try to blow out the flame. This will slow your breathing and heart rate down to help calm you down. Or you can try finding something you can hear, something you can touch, something you can taste, something you can smell, and something you can see. This does two things, 1) Gets your mind off of whatever caused the attack and 2) Forces your mind to focus on 1 thing and nothing else. I hope this helps :)
July 26th, 2019 2:39pm
Take a few deep breathes and have a glass of water. It’s ok to cry and release the emotion at that moment as long as you know how to get back, get a grip and be in control of your mind. You need to understand what can make you feel better and how you can release the built up emotion in better way such as taking a bath, going for a swim or run, cleaning up, talking to someone, writing in a journal. If you need a break or need to talk, prioritise it without delay. Give yourself some ‘alone’ or ‘me’ time.
August 9th, 2019 2:07am
If you're in a convenient place, splash some cold water on your face or let it run across your wrists, you will find that can reset your breathing. Other things to try is notice whether you are breathing through your nose or mouth, if it's hard to breath through your mouth, then try breathing through your nose, and visa versa. Both of these methods break you into doing something that gets you into your thinking mind and away from the 'locked in' emotional response. Crying is a natural and healthy response, but if you feel you need to understand it more, or you feel you cry too easily/often some simple techniques can help manage it. Things that are easy in the moment are wiggling your toes, or pressing the roof of your mouth with your tongue.
August 16th, 2019 3:00pm
First thing you want to do is try and calm yourself, if its due to medical issues tell someone around or call and ambulance. Though the best solution is trying to be calm, as hard as it might be. Think about the problem causing you to feel this way and wonder what you or someone else could do to make the situation better. The key is calmness, breath in and out very slowly to slow down your heart rate. Don't panic or over think as it can be dangerous. Keep telling yourself it will get better and you will be fine.
September 22nd, 2019 5:13pm
It might be tough when that happens but what I usually do is when I recognize that I am struggling I try to bring myself back and think to myself in my head to focus on breathing, such as in-out-in-out-etc. Recently I've found that humming a tune that is memorable in my head helps with focusing. It brings your brain to think away from the reason you are crying and to focus on breathing. Though, of course, what worked for me isn't going to work for you for sure. You can try to take in ideas and explore but most importantly take it slowly and take care of yourself.
October 2nd, 2019 7:43pm
Take a deep breath and try to think of something positive. Why do you feel that you will end up crying and find yourself struggling to breathe? It sounds like you have some anxiety. I understand why you are feeling scared but just know that I am here for you if you need anything. This is only a stepping stone and you'll be okay. I can't give you any advice but I can always be here to listen. If you need any other assistance, 7cups hotline can definitely help you out with anything you need. Let's schedule a time every week to discuss more.
October 25th, 2019 6:32pm
Personally, I can really relate to this question. Growing up I would come home from school and start crying and had difficulty breathing. I would talk to my therapists about it, and they gave me some ideas of things I could do. I started meditating, I would download some relaxing piano music on my phone, and whenever I would have a hard time with my breathing I would simply plug my earbuds in. It took a while for me to adjust to this technique, I was hesitant at first because in all seemed very very clique to me. It took a long time, but eventually, meditation began to help me with my anxiety attacks.
November 1st, 2019 1:26pm
If you are struggling to breathe then drink water. Calm yourself down and then close your eyes and take deep breath. In your mind repeat these words given below: "I know my importance and I love myself. I know myself." Then open your eyes slowly. If you are still feeling sad then write your feelings in a personal notebook or a diary. That's my personal way to deal with people who are crying or deal with myself when I cry. Smile and stay positive. You know your importance. You know who you are. Good luck. Remember happiness is within you. 💛
November 1st, 2019 10:01pm
I have had times in my life when I ended up crying and couldn't breathe. It was a really tough time when I couldn't see the light at the end of the tunnel. Now things are back to normal and don't cry as much. Crying is a good thing as it lets out the emotions and the experience feels ever so real. So, what to do well you could accept the crying and experience it as possibly after you finish you'd feel better. You could write things down so you can think back to how you are feeling after you have cried. What do you think?
December 4th, 2019 12:55am
3 words: Deep Belly Breaths! Focus on your breathing. As obvious as it seems, when we’re struggling to get a decent amount of air into our lungs, it’s important we try our best to slow down and soothe ourselves. We can achieve this by taking slow, deep breaths through our belly. Our chest only really allows for shallow breaths. You can tell where you’re breathing through by which part of your torso is moving. If your chest expands and deflates, you are not taking belly breaths! Seems intuitive, right? ♡ Because it is. It just takes some practice while we’re panicking. I wish you the best! You are never alone.
December 26th, 2019 2:08pm
You're not alone in experiencing this and people have different ways of coping. During such an episode, I preferred exposure to as few people as possible. Concerned stares only made it worse for me. Then I needed space, either outdoors or a spacious room. A bathroom cubicle seems private, but I'd feel like the walls were closing in on me. Sitting upright also eased the tightness in my chest. After the fact, I found it helpful to understand why I reacted this way. I'd struggle to breathe because I'd hyperventilate. I'd hyperventilate because of panic. Particular things triggered my panic. While hyperventilation is not dangerous in itself, it does feel really scary in the moment. It's simply your body's way of informing you of your excessive worry about something. It helped to identify my triggers, then come up with a plan to solve or cope with them next time. This worked for me. I hope you find a way to cope too.
January 2nd, 2020 7:33am
When I find myself crying and struggling to breathe I find it very grounding to lay flat on my back and put weight on my body (like a heavy blanket or jacket on top of me) and/or recite a song that calms me down or a phrase that I find comforting or soothing over and over again quietly to myself. Once I can breathe just a little easier I focus on the steps I have to take to get up and continue on with what I was going. So I lay there and list out step by step what I need to do(ex. 1. Deep breath 2. Feel my feet , legs , arms, 3. Move my hands 4. Sit up 5. Breathe and so on and so forth. Once I’ve listed everything off I slowly start carrying it out in that other after saying it.
January 4th, 2020 12:04pm
I always find that certain breathing techniques are very helpful and can be used anywhere. There are some really great techniques online, and so finding some that you can use whenever you feel like this could really help ease it. If you can and you feel safe to, let someone who's around you know how you feel, and how they can help. Sometimes having someone there to help you through makes all the difference. Just remember, focusing on your breathing and becoming calm first always helps solve any anxieties much better than if you aren't in the right frame of mind!
January 29th, 2020 5:39am
Sometimes crying can be a good thing, it can help to let out our emotions and sometimes we feel more calm after a good crying session. If you find yourself struggling to breath, that is a whole different thing. Try taking deep breaths or drinking a glass of water, and sometimes something like a short walk can help. If it gets to the point where you absolutely cannot breath, call for help to someone in the house or whatever emergency number is used in your country, such as 911. I hope I helped!
January 30th, 2020 6:28am
Do your best to get to a safe space, just somewhere you can try and sit with yourself to try and regain your composure. Focus on taking slow deep breaths, in and out, if you really need to follow one of those circle gifs, they really help you focus your breathing. Also washing your face may help you calm yourself down, warm water does the trick for me. It helps soothe me and calm me down, while also allowing me to clean up the tears from my face. A mixture of both these action is usually a good way to try and calm yourself down.
February 2nd, 2020 2:26pm
Find something to distract yourself. If you focus too much on your breathing, you can get anxious about it and that makes it worse. If you're inside, you could count bricks on a wall, or carpet squares. You could listen to music or make yourself a hot drink. You don't have to drink it, just holding a cup of warm water is proven to help you relax. Don't worry if you can't stop crying for the moment - just remember that whatever is happening right now won't be permanent! If that was too long to read: Find something to distract yourself. Hot drinks are my favourite.
February 21st, 2020 9:49am
Crying releases stress and could be why you did. Try to recall what you were thinking about in those moments and acknowledge it in someway. Note that it is stressful and to address it in some way so you feel less stress over the matter. Also remember in these situations breathe throw your stomach not your chest. Too many people take shallow breaths which end up inducing panic sometimes. Breathing through your chest causes the muscles to tighten up, and you start to feel you can't breathe. So remember, belly breaths. Deep full inhales and exhales. It's also good to let out a sigh every now and then, before taking these deep breaths as well.