Have you ever encountered shortness of breath or hyperventilation, heart palpitations or a racing heart, chest pain or discomfort, trembling or shaking, a choking feeling, feeling unreal or detached from your surroundings, sweating, nausea or upset stomach? If you have, then you might have just experienced a panic attack. Experiencing one or more of these symptoms is no easy matter, but do not fret, because you can do easily do something about it once you encounter it again.
If you have already tried deep breathing and it did not successfully soothe your stress symptoms, then the explanation for this is you might have omitted a critical step. And I will show you the best ways to do it right.
These deep-breathing exercises could possibly be the most important coping techniques I will show you if you are dealing with panic attacks or social anxiety disorder. It is also helpful with additional anxiety disorders where bodily symptoms are less notable, but nevertheless current. Comfortable, heavy breathing is the key to rest. All the conventional relaxation methods such as yoga, meditation, and hypnotherapy place a fundamental emphasis on breathing.
I cannot catch my breath!
The important thing to remember is to not get frightened, as doing so generates additional uncomfortable bodily signs, so it is worth your while to improve it.
When you are feeling shortness of breath, it does not mean that you are not getting sufficient air. In reality, individuals may most likely say, “I cannot catch my breath”, but by just saying so demonstrates that they are actually getting air as we speak by creating air vibrations. You are actually breathing if you can talk. It is not a dangerous symptom.
You have most likely heard it, and you might also know it by yourself that what you really must do is to “just take a deep breath.” This is a great tip, but one that is incomplete, because it does not inform you how to actually and properly take a deep breath. Good breathing exercises should inform you how to do so, and this is what I am going to do.
Feeling like you cannot catch your breath is the most frequently felt of all panic symptoms. You feel like every breath is a struggle, you strive to take a deep breath, and you worry that you are not likely to get to your next breath – and the harder you try, the worse it feels for you.
All these are because you forget one important action when you feel as if you cannot catch your breath: you forget to exhale.
Go ahead, try to exhale right now and see what I am talking about. Put one hand on your chest, and another on your abdomen. Breathe shallowly out of your chest a couple of times, and then attempt to take a deep breath. I think you will find that when you inhale, you utilize your chest muscles rather than your diaphragm or abdomen.
When you take short shallow breaths from your chest, you cannot successfully take a deep breath. And all you can do is just take more labored, short breaths from your chest. Yes, you take in air, but it will not feel good. Inhaling in this shallow manner might get you all the air you need, but may also bring other signs that might add to your panic. You might get chest discomfort or heaviness, since your chest muscles stiffen uncomfortably. This chest discomfort felt in a panic assault is not from the heart, and is instead from torso muscles. Shallow respiration may produce exactly the same symptoms as hyperventilation such as dizziness or light-headedness. You may also feel numbness or tingling in the limbs, and a rapid pulse as well.
People with panic disorder will benefit from a number of breathing exercises, such as:
The Bumblebee Breath
This breathing exercise produces a sound, so you might prefer to be alone if you do this one. The bumblebee breath method has been employed for hundreds of years to relax the mind. The exercise might seem a bit strange, but the great feeling it brings is simply worth it. Here’s how to do it:
- Relax your shoulders.
- When you breathe in, close your throat so you will hear your breath.
- Cover your eyes with your fingers, and cover your ears with your thumbs.
- Keep your lips softly closed, your teeth slightly apart, and your jaw relaxed – breathe out slowly, creating a long, low, humming sound.
- Extend your exhalation and make it smooth.
- Afterwards, sit for a couple of minutes and take long slow breaths, and revel in the serenity.
Here’s how to do it:
- Open your mouth. Pull your belly in, and exhale through your mouth.
- Close your mouth, inhale through your nose and push out your belly. Since this motion will take in air, the breathing in is preceded by the movements of your belly. Inhale as much air as you are easily able to. You are finished with this specific inhalation step.
- Open your mouth and sigh, like when someone has just told you something extremely frustrating. As you are doing so, allow your shoulders and the muscle of your torso to curl up, then down during the exhale. The purpose of this sigh is not to fully empty your lungs, instead, it is to merely loosen your torso muscles.
- Put your hand just above your sternum, and another hand on your chest. By feeling with your fingers, you can now tell which body part, and exactly which muscles you are employing to respire.
- Pause – the length of which will be determined by you. Only you can determine the length of your break, as every person and every lung are different. Take a break for as long as it is comfortable. Also bear in mind that when you breathe in this manner, you are using breaths that are bigger than you are used to. This is why it is necessary to breath more slowly than you are used to. You will most likely feel light-headed from over-breathing in case you breathe in exactly the same speed as your regular short breaths. Doing so will also make you yawn. Light-headedness and yawning are not harmful, and are instead simply signs to decelerate. Heed them.
- Open your mouth and breathe.
- Repeat steps 4-6.
This method is most effective when at home or during travel.
How to do it:
- To nix stress from head to toe, shut your eyes and concentrate on relaxing and straining each group of muscles for 2 to 3 seconds each.
- Focus on your toes and feet, then shift your torso, legs, back, arms, fingers, throat, mouth, and eyes as much as possible.
This method is most effective just about anywhere you may safely shut your eyes and let go.
How to do it:
- Head right for your “happy spot,” no questions asked.
- Breathe deeply while visualizing positive pictures to dispel any negative images. Directed visual images places you in the area you need to be, as an alternative to letting your mind move towards an inner conversation that is nerve-wracking.
Even if we may not ultimately eliminate stress, discouragement, and panic from our day-to-day lives, fortunately we can easily do something to alleviate it. And that is to remember these breathing exercises, and just simply breathe.