Did you know that proper breathing can be a powerful tool to circumvent panic attacks? And if you assume that’s just some nonsense sputtered by spiritually-inclined folks or some kind of placebo derived from self-help books, think again! In fact, here’s a proper scientific article that looks intently at the relationship between breathing cycles and panic attacks.
There are plenty of these articles around, which make for a growing body of evidence that respiration imbalances are indeed connected to anxiety attacks; after studying much of this material, here we’ll provide you with breathing techniques that you should try using next time you’re on the verge of panic.
To begin with, you should know there are three common breathing issues that are usually caused by anxiety: shallow and quick breathing (that makes you feel tired or drowsy), monitored breathing (obsessing about your breath or some aspect of it such as wheezing or a sense of tight chest), and hyperventilation (deep, intense breathing that induces lightheadedness, restlessness and other related symptoms).
None of these modes of breathing are beneficial to your peace of mind, and they’ll actually prompt secondary symptoms that will add to your send of discomfort and overarching panic. So, when you notice you’re breathing wrong, try to counter with one of the following exercises.
<H2>Deep Breathing Relaxation</h2>
Sit in a chair with your back straight, your arms resting along the sides of your body. Breathe in deeply from the nose, then hold the breath a few seconds, then exhale even more slowly through the mouth. Repeat this process 10 times, making it a bit slower each time around.
This exercise may sound pointless in your first attempts, but after you’ve grown accustomed, it can be as effective as self-hypnosis. With that in mind, do your best to persevere in its application.
<h2>CO2 Rebreathing </h2>
When you feel like you’re hyperventilating, you may assume your body isn’t getting enough oxygen… but it’s usually the opposite: you’re breathing so fast that your CO2 levels are too low. This exercise may help restore the balance.
Try cupping your hands over your mouth and nose, and breath into them for 1-2 minutes. Alternatively, breathe into a paper bag. You may notice this will quickly make you calm down.
<h2>Deep Breathing With Visualization</h2>
This is similar to the deep breathing exercise above, with an added element of visualization – which is meant both to help increase your focus and distract your mind from panic.
Sit down with your back straight. As you focus on your breathing, pay attention to your heartbeat as well. For every time you inhale count five beats, then hold for seven beats, then exhale for nine beats. While counting the heartbeats for each step, either visualize the numbers in your head, or a geometric figure with as many sides as you’re counting.