The Surprising Connection between Anxiety and your Heart

After the year of seismic change we’ve just had, I think it’s fair to say that anxiety levels are pretty high in general right now.

Anxiety can manifest in a multitude of different symptoms. These include tense muscles and headaches, feeling light-headed or dizzy, a fast, thumping or irregular heartbeat, sweating, raised blood pressure, insomnia and panic attacks.

In addition to these physical symptoms, anxiety causes negative thoughts and feelings which can feel overwhelming – feeling tense, nervous and on edge, having a sense of dread, feeling like the world is speeding up or slowing down, feeling restless – or even just feeling numb.

And anxiety is often overlooked. It affects around 12% of the population in the US, with many people not even realising they are suffering.

If this sounds familiar, don’t despair. Chinese medicine offers super effective techniques to treat anxiety, thanks to a completely different approach.

Anxiety and your heart

A natural emotion

In Chinese medicine, anxiety is seen as a perfectly natural emotion. Happiness, after all, is not a permanent state. In fact, every emotion, good or bad, has its place. However, it becomes a problem when you start experiencing that emotion to excess.

In Chinese wisdom, each emotion is connected with an organ in the body. This is a huge shift in perspective; it means you have a physical place to focus your healing. So, whilst the heart is responsible for pumping the blood around the body, it also looks after the emotions of Joy and Anxiety.

When an organ’s energy is out of balance, the corresponding emotion can dominate your mood patterns. Taking steps to nourish your Heart Qi (energy) will have a positive impact on your anxiety levels.

Engaging your breath

If that moment when the room shrinks and your heart starts racing is all too familiar, start with a simple breathing exercise. The breath, when used correctly, is a simple and powerful way to relieve anxiety.

A bit of science: the vagus nerve is the most important element of the parasympathetic nervous system (the one that calms you down when you’re stressed). It acts as the mind-body connection and is the cabling between your heart’s emotions and your gut instincts.

Whilst you can’t control this part of the nervous system on demand, you can indirectly stimulate it with the right breathing technique. This calms the mind and heart rate, deeply oxygenates the blood and overrides any emotional negativity. Engaging your breath will directly support your heart. My one-minute Rescue Breath is a good place to start.

Breathing properly to combat anxiety is a technique used widely across both Western and Eastern medicine – but it’s just the start. To find out more, download my free Anxiety guide and follow me on Instagram @katie_brindle, where I’m always available and happy to answer any questions you may have.

One final point. The Chinese practice of Qigong combines breath, meditation and movement. It has been proven in studies to be super effective at alleviating Anxiety and indeed improving mental health in general. Head to to find out more about the transformative benefits of Qigong and to try a free class. I would specifically recommend the 12 Rivers course for Anxiety.

I’m hosting an Anxiety Masterclass on Monday 25th January at 7pm UK, where I will be explaining the Chinese medicine approach in detail and outlining all the techniques you can use to help reduce your anxiety levels.

Tai Chi and Qigong for the Treatment and Prevention of Mental Disorders

The Effects of Qigong on Anxiety, Depression, and Psychological Well-Being: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis

Vagus Nerve Stimulation for Anxiety Disorders