Is it your chest or belly that rises and falls when you breathe? One of the few breathing techniques for panic attacks is belly breathing, otherwise known as abdominal breathing or diaphragmatic breathing. Most people breathe with their chests, which is not as effective as breathing with the belly. Try sucking in your gut and breathing with just your chest rising and falling. It’s hard, right? The diaphragm gets stuck up high and there is nowhere for the air to go. Your shoulders will rise, but this doesn’t allow more oxygen to get to your brain, muscles and cells. Did you notice whether you breathe through your nose or your mouth? It is actually better to breathe through your nose at all times so your mouth and throat do not dry out.
Practice belly breathing by lying on your back wherever you feel comfortable. Place your hands on your belly. Take a deep breath in allowing your stomach to expand as you do so. When you breathe out allow your stomach to collapse. These are the basics of belly breathing.
Now that you understand belly breathing you can learn deep breathing, which can help you control symptoms of panic attacks. If your oxygen intake is low it will affect every part of your body. Breathing is an involuntary action, thus we forget we are even doing it. We must refocus our energy on breathing deep to replenish everything.
A study by P.N. Ravindra with the Department of Physiology at SDM Medical College that appeared in the International Journal of Cardiology showed that deep breathing 6 times per minute eliminated a patient’s anxiety and heart palpitations.
Deep Breathing Technique
Do the same as before with the belly breathing: lie on your back and allow your stomach to expand and collapse when you breathe. Use your nose when you breathe in and out. Breathe in and out slowly. Now, take a slow and steady breath in, pause for 1 second, and then breathe out slowly and steadily. Set a timer or have a friend help you. See if you can take six long, deep breaths in one minute. That’s five seconds in and five seconds out 6 times. The trick to deep breathing is to get as much oxygen in as you can and allow it all to come out afterward.
Combine belly breathing and deep breathing as these are amongst the best breathing techniques for panic attacks. Practice every day for at least ten minutes. If you do have a panic attack use these techniques to help you through the symptoms. The more you practice the easier it will be when the time comes.
NB: The content of this article is for information purposes and is not intended to replace sound medical advice and opinion.
Jack Eason Rowe, MBA, CSME, PhD, HEALTHYPLACE: Breathing Techniques to Calm Anxiety and Panic, 2007
HELPGUIDE.org: Relaxation Techniques for Stress Relief
Discovery Heath: Deep Breathing: It’s Easy When You Don’t Try