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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
Anonymous
August 15th, 2020 8:30am
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.Panic attacks are generally brief, lasting less than 10 minutes, although some of the symptoms may persist for a longer time.
youarelovedandyouareenough
August 23rd, 2020 7:09pm
If I end up crying and feel like I can't breathe, it's good for me to ask for help from my support system. In the mean time, using different breathing and grounding exercises are helpful. 4x4 breathing is a great technique, as well as 4, 7, 8 breathing. You breathe in for 4, hold for 7, and breathe out for a count of 8. Continue to do this until my breathing feels more regulated. I also try to feel where i am connected to the earth and find awareness of what I feel, see, hear, smell, and taste in the moment. Using your senses and feeling connected to the earth is a really soothing grounding exercise.
Anonymous
September 4th, 2020 9:36pm
If you're in a situation where you are struggling to breathe because you are having an anxiety attack is just to try and remain calm, sit or stand up straight and take couple of deep breaths. When you take a deep breathe, hold your breathe for a couple of seconds and exhale slowly and evenly through your nares. To be certain you are correctly deep breathing, put one hand on your belly, the other on your chest and assess, which hand is expanding, if the hand that is on your belly is expanding then that means your are correctly breathing, If its the chest that's expanding than you are not correctly breathing.
ThePowerofKnight
September 12th, 2020 7:46pm
One helpful step would be to stop moving. Create stillness in the moment that you are crying and highly emotional. Next begin to bring your focus to your breath. Sometimes it is easier to achieve deep cleansing breathes when standing. Hold onto to a nearby surface or wall to steady your balance. If you begin to feel light headed and you are unable to focus on your breath, at this stage it, may be more helpful to sit down. Whether standing or sitting, try to remember to elongate your spine in order to open and lengthen the lungs. This posture will allow you to cultivate deep cleansing, calming breathes. Deep breathing exercises have been proven to provide deescalation of emotions and a calming effect. One breathing technique you can use to regain control of your breath is to choose a point in your frontal field of view to focus on. This is called a "drishti" point in yoga that aids in connecting the breath with the body. Once you have found your focal point, maintain your focus on that one point the entire time so nothing around you distracts you. Next start with a deep inward breath and begin counting slowly: breathe in 1, 2, 3, 4. Breathe out slowly 1, 2, 3, 4. Continue this cycle until you begin to calm down and regain self control. You can do this privately in your car, in a restroom, or step outside if you prefer privacy, however please never feel embarrassed for what you may look like publicly because you are stopping to take care of yourself. If implementing this breathing technique does not help you calm down, do not hesitate to ask for help from someone nearby or call someone you know who can support you on your phone.
Anonymous
October 14th, 2020 10:40pm
Look around the room, try to name the objects you see out loud, attempt to take deep breaths while still doing that. it should help shift your focus outwards, and help you regain control of your breathing. Another way is to inhale for 7 seconds and exhale for 5 seconds a few times. This method would help bring your breathing back to normal after a few attempts. It would help to close your eyes and focus on how different parts of your body moves as you inhale and exhale. Keep this up for 5 minutes at least or longer if needed.
KayleeVolunteers
November 1st, 2020 7:06pm
If you are crying and possibly struggling to breathe and feeling overwhelmed, you may be having a panic attack. Do not worry. Panic attacks are common among individuals, so you are not only. There are many exercises out there to help you, including the five senses exercises. This exercise helps ground yourself to where you are physical. First sense sight looks for five things you can see. Next is sound, identify four things you can hear. Next is touch identify three things you can feel. The second is smell name two things you can smell. And finally, taste names one thing you can taste. There are other exercises as well you can try and if it really bad ask an adult for help.
janedoe73
November 11th, 2020 5:53pm
There are many breathing techniques you can try. Firstly, do your best to not panic when out of breath. Remind yourself you are safe and then count you breaths. For example, 4 second breathing in, 5 seconds hold and 6 second breathing out and repeat. Only the mental focus on the process is going to help you relax and calm you down. Also, on the internet you can find many breathing diagrams, which are gifs that show you the patterns of breathing, try to use those. But most importantly, try not to panic or that will make your breathing worse.
SunshineSofia5059
November 22nd, 2020 2:04am
This happens to everyone, its a difficult feeling to come by and it's tough to manage as well. Its always good to take try to take a long deep breath. Obviously this might be difficult so it sometimes helps to count your breaths. For example, breathe in for 2 seconds, hold for 2 second and exhale for 4 seconds and repeat. I find this sometimes helps me out because it gets my mind off of what was bothering me in the first place and it also allows me to get my breathing back to a regular pattern. I hope this can help!
Anonymous
November 24th, 2020 1:04am
Breathe slowly, as hard as it seems, it will work. Crying is an amazing way to de-stress and to release everything that might be affecting you. Personally, I've been in these situations many times because of both family and friends related issues. It's almost a learning curve to better improve your breathing and ways to calm yourself down easier. Just remember, whatever is happening in your life to make you cry, or to make you to struggle to breathe, you are amazing in every way and people are always going to be there for you. Especially those at 7 Cups.
lizzy2992
December 12th, 2020 11:38pm
Sit down somewhere and focus on things around you, such as the colours you can see, what you can smell, what shapes there are around you, what describe everything to yourself in as much detail as you can. You could also count to 10 or do some breathing exercises to help.
Anonymous
January 14th, 2021 8:28pm
It's best to place yourself and recognize the present moment. What I usually do in these situations is to point out 5 things I see, 4 things I can touch, 3 things I can hear, 2 things I smell and 1 thing I can taste. Making sense of your surroundings allows you to connect back to your senses, and hopefully soothe your crying. Make sure you stand up as well and walk. Walking stimulates circulation in your body again while a new environment can help you connect to your breathe again. If none of these work, I usually continue to feel my emotions and let myself cry. Feelings will eventually subside ! The moments in which you cry with yourself help you develop mental and physical resilience. Help yourself believe and know that you will truly get through this tough period.
LightNight111
January 16th, 2021 4:31pm
There are a lot of techniques to cope with moments where anxiety can be at its highest. Grounding techniques, such as the 54321 technique (naming 5 things you can see, 4 things you can touch, 3 things you can hear, 2 things you can smell, 1 thing you can taste) can help to bring your focus away from any negative thoughts and back to the present. There are also a lot of deep breathing exercises that can be very useful in those moments too. Another good way to prevent yourself getting to this point is regularly writing down your feelings to stop yourself from getting too overwhelmed! Hope this helps.
esthalley
January 30th, 2021 4:35pm
You can try to ground and distract yourself by making yourself of your surrondings (counting things you can see, things you can hear, smell, touch, taste). Or if you feel that it is manageable, you can try to time your breath by counting around 6 second when you breath in , and out, and this way make them more regular. Stimming, or thinking of things that are soothing to you can also help you calm down and relax, if your surrondings are the ting stressing you out, close your eyes and imagine yourself in a safe place. Finally, you can also visualize the air going in and out of your lungs and soothing you.
jessh7
February 19th, 2021 3:19am
Concentrate on your breathing. Think about drawing a long breath in from your nose and then slowly through your mouth exhale the air. Fill your lungs completely with air. Try to relax your facial muscles. Lift your arms up above your head as you inhale and slowly return them to your sides when you exhale. Standing up while you do this can also help. Look around and identify 5 different colors, 4 different things you can touch, 3 different things you are doing in that moment, 2 different textures you can touch and 1 thing that you are feeling.
letmebeyourhope
February 27th, 2021 1:02pm
You should try to name 5 things you can see, 4 things you can hear, 3 things you can smell, 2 things you can feel, 1 thing you can taste. That will help you to concentrate on your surroundings and focus your thoughts. After that, try to take a deep breath and look at the situation through other’s eyes. It might seem not as bad as you imagined in your head. Try to give yourself an advice, as you would give to your friend if they were in this situation. Talk about it to someone, put your emotions into words.
archiesnapx
March 7th, 2021 7:59am
The first thing youll need to do is learn how to ground yourself. So close your eyes and slowly focus on the environment around you. Move on to your breathing next, and slowly focus on inhaling and exhaling. If music helps you calm down, play some as you do this.
WonderousSoul2550
March 12th, 2021 6:52am
It depends on how hard you are crying. If you still have some control, you could try a breathing exercise called coherent breathing: First make yourself comfortable. Then inhale trough your nose while slowly counting to 5 and exhale through your mouth while also counting to 5. This way you manage about 5-6 full breaths per minute. Do that for a few minutes. It will lower your stress level and increase your heart rate variability (HRV). It takes a little time to notice an effect, but you will feel better soon. The more often you practice, the easier it will be and results will come quicker.
Anonymous
March 26th, 2021 12:40am
If you are struggling to the point of a medical emergency, consider seeking immediate treatment. Some things that myself and others have found helpful when feeling upset and struggling with crying are practicing meditation, getting exercise, guided breathing videos, and talking to a friend. Perhaps you can talk with your friends and family to identify a safe person to connect with when experiencing strong emotions. Making a comfort plan in advance when you are calm, like having a favorite blanket, a calming tea in the cabinet, etc. sometimes can make people feel more prepared and in charge of the situation when strong feelings come up. Crying is a normal response to feelings, and is important to let yourself experience when you need to. Being able to cry and stay safe are key, so make sure to check-in on your breathing and get help if needed.
Mimiverse
March 26th, 2021 7:39pm
Crying is one of those emotions that is so raw and pure that even I forget to breathe sometimes. In the moment that those tears fall, your entire body can essentially be letting itself go and it's letting all the emotions you are experiencing out. Sometimes what helps me is just putting my hand over my chest and recognizing that I am still alive. My heart beat may be faint and it may take a moment to find it, but once I get there, I tell myself to breathe. It may seem strange to tell yourself constantly to "breathe," but I think in the mist of crying, we often forget the things that comes naturally to us because we are upset.
glowingFlute4899
April 1st, 2021 1:37pm
Close your eyes and think of blackness, take a deep breath with your stomach moving outward, hold it for 1--2--3--4--and then release it very very slowly over 1---2---3---4---5---6. Do this at least three times. Try to acknowledge what you were feeling and why you were feeling it, Listen to the hypnotic, meditative rainfall at rainymood.com. Breathe deeply and slowly. Love yourself. Tell yourself something good about yourself or your day right away. Think of three funny things. Hug a pillow tightly. There may be preventative measures you can take if this is interfering with your day-to-day life like as-needed anxiety medication or long-term medication options for anxiety or depression.
Anonymous
April 7th, 2021 6:16pm
Sometimes the best thing you can do if you are crying and struggling to breathe is to move yourself to a safe environment where you can allow yourself to focus on just breathing. Safely remove yourself from any dangers, and preferably away from the stimulus that induced the crying. Once you are in a safe space, try to focus on deliberate inhales and exhales. If that is proving too difficult, or if you are losing your ability to cope, try to find one thing you can see, one thing you can hear, one thing you can smell, one thing you can touch, and one thing you can taste. This will help ground you in an awareness of your body, and may help you focus so that you can try breathing again.
BlueOasis420
April 10th, 2021 9:20am
Hey! First of all, you can try to not cry in the first place. Please don't bottle your emotions, if you feel the need to cry, do it, but maybe we can determine in which situations you want to cry and avoid them. So maybe you could sit down and note after you have cried what happened, how you felt and what you thought. If you're crying, don't try to stop yourself. It's a healthy way of coping with grief and sadness. But if you feel like you can't breathe now, remember: You can't suffocate because of crying. It's just a feeling, nothing can happen. If you remember this in these situations, it might prevent you from getting panic. Then you can try breathing exercises. We have some here, like the gif of the triangle to breathe along. You can also look up some in the internet, like the 4-7-8 exercise. Try to breathe out longer than you inhale, that will calm you down. I wish you best of luck!
Anonymous
April 11th, 2021 4:40am
in nursing school we learned that when someone is experiencing a panic or anxiety attack that you should breathe into a paper bag because that will help your breathing to slow down or you can also focus on a analog clock and follow the seconds hand and breathe deeply. when this happens to me i just try to think of happy thoughts and remind myself that i am in control of this situation and that i can also help myself out of this situation. if youve got a friend or a significant other whom is understanding and will be there to hold you or listen to you that helps a lot as well
MelMels
April 23rd, 2021 3:02pm
A technique I like to use when I feel this way is called Grounding. Often when I feel overwhelmed and I start to cry and panic, I tend to lose where I am and lose my sense of self and sense of control. Making myself aware that I'm present by bringing my attention to my feet and the ground below me also gives me awareness of the rest of my body, including the air in my lungs, and allows me to bring myself back and calm myself down Also, a mantra I like to use that offers the same effect is 'if you can talk, you can breathe'. Sometimes if I can, I'll whisper a random word outloud or just make a sound to remind myself that there is air around me, but often just repeating that mantra over and over in my head is enough
Anonymous
May 14th, 2021 2:26am
Though it may be difficult and may not be the easiest to consider, try to focus specifically on your breaths, and elongate them as much as possible. Allow thoughts to appear, but try to dismiss them and continue to focus on your breathing. I know that really thinking about breathing in slowly helps me when I am feeling overwhelmed and begin breathing too quickly. It may not be easy to think about in the moment, but if you practice focusing on your breathing repeatedly, it will become easier over time as you turn it into a habit. This applies not just to breathing difficulties as a result of crying, but I find that this is really helpful with my general anxiety.
Anonymous
May 15th, 2021 5:15am
This is usually a panic or anxiety attack. Just try and calm down, try taking deep breaths, holding your knees to your chest. Luke warm baths can also help in calming someone down. Focus on good things, happy things that calm you down, hug something that you love. Breath in a scent that you like. But deep breaths will help you the most. They don't come easily at first but eventually you will be able to draw a full, deep breath after practicing for a little bit. Luke warm baths don't work for everyone but they are relaxing and tend to help some.
SkyeWater
May 20th, 2021 3:16am
For me I find that having something to hug (a stuff toy, a pillow, anything soft) helps me to slowly calm down and catch my breath again. It could also help if you calculate your breathing- I like to do a 3-3 breathing routine so i breath in and count to 3 then breath out in 3 seconds too. I find that having something to grip or sometimes crouching down helped me breathe better because I felt more comfortable crying when crouching. Worse comes to worse, it would be good to call up a friend and get them to breathe with you so you can pace your breathing with them.
sunnyvision
July 8th, 2021 4:22pm
Begin by slowing down your breath: Take a deep inhalation through your nose, filling your lungs with breath. When you can't take in any more air, slowly exhale all the air out through your mouth. Continue for a few minutes with this deep, purposeful breathing. Notice how your center rises as you inhale and contracts as you breathe out. Through this simple breathing exercise, you may begin to feel relaxed and return to a more natural breath. Relaxation techniques work best when practiced regularly, including at times when you're not feeling anxious. Through practice and persistence, relaxation techniques can be an effective strategy for getting through panic attacks.
wonderfullPalm5000
July 15th, 2021 4:15am
Try to sit and take a look arround your surroundings if you are in a noisy place try to excuse yourself. Try shaking your head gently with tongue out and making a blurbing sound. Try noticing the colors in your surroundings and repeat them in your head, take deep and slow breaths, take s shower if possible, play some soothing music and snug up your blanket and pillow... You should notice the difference soon enough. If nothing works try talking to Someone about what's going on or anything random you'd like to talk about watch a funny video or play a game you like.
STriver2022
July 22nd, 2021 4:53am
To start you can create a personal action plan, on this plan you would list things that help you refocus when you feel overwhelmed and anxious. Having this in a safe place to have easily available when you are feeling this way with help you to refocus and work through your feelings. Having a set out plan to start an activity that helps to ease your anxiety. You can also have a list of people you feel comfortable reaching out to, letting them know ahead of time that they are your person when you experience times of high anxiety.