Anxiety-related yawning could also have to do with the hyperventilation that comes with feeling anxious (via Calm Clinic). Hyperventilation, otherwise known rapid or deep breathing because of some sort of stress response, can make you feel like you’re not getting enough oxygen into your lungs. Your body responds by yawning in the hopes of trying to soothe this sensation — because a yawn means taking a nice big breath of air to increase oxygen flow in your blood.
But it’s important to understand that what is in fact happening with hyperventilation is that you’re inhaling too much oxygen and letting out too much carbon dioxide, per Calm Clinic. So yawning excessively to try and regulate this imbalance, weirdly, might actually prove counter-productive.
What you should be doing instead is stop over-breathing (via Johns Hopkins Medicine). Over-breathing can make you feel breathless and make you hyperventilate more. Try and let your body breathe the way it’s supposed — nice, small, calm breaths — until you can regulate the excessive oxygen intake and carbon dioxide release. Now that you know the scientific explanation behind yawning when you’re anxious, here are some more tips to manage anxiety-induced hyperventilation.