In the throes of panic attacks, a simple yet powerful tool lies at your disposal – breathing techniques. Grounded in scientific principles, these techniques have been a cornerstone in managing and overcoming the often symptoms of panic attacks.
- THE SUDDEN GRIP OF PANIC ATTACKS
- WHAT ARE THE PANIC ATTACKS
- HOW PANIC ATTACKS MANIFEST
- FINDING CALM AND BALANCE THROUGH TAILORED BREATHING TECHNIQUES
- SLOW CONTROL BREATHING
- 6 BREATHING TECHNIQUES FOR PANIC ATTACKS
- FINAL THOUGHTS…
THE SUDDEN GRIP OF PANIC ATTACKS
You are in the middle of a typical day, engaged in your routine tasks when suddenly, your heart starts racing.
A wave of inexplicable fear washes over you. You feel dizzy, your chest tightens, and everything around you seems unreal. If this scenario sounds familiar, you are not alone.
Panic attacks are a reality for many, affecting approximately 1 in 4 people at some point. These intense, often overwhelming experiences can strike without warning, leaving you searching for relief.
WHAT ARE THE PANIC ATTACKS
In the fast-paced lifestyle, you are constantly on the go, mentally juggling, and hardly getting any physical downtime.
This non-stop hustle does not leave much room for you to pause and reflect. When you do not get a chance to slow down and check in with yourself, it is easy for worries and anxiety to amplify.
All this can generate manifestations in the form of sudden episodes of intense fear, considered panic attacks. These episodes are not just psychological but also physiological basis.
Many times, they are confused with anxiety attacks. Although the two have symptoms in common, some aspects, such as the duration and intensity, are key differentiators.
In general, the time of a panic attack can vary between 5-10 minutes. Also, there may be cases when multiple panic attacks occur consecutively, thus making it appear to have a longer duration.
HOW PANIC ATTACKS MANIFEST
Unexpected attacks can occur without any trigger, but it is an automatic and natural action of your body to a threat that it perceives. Whether an external or an internal threat.
The external or internal factors perceived as a threat trigger the sympathetic nervous system that releases adrenaline and cortisone, hormones of emergencies, which schedule you for action.
Because the brain is on full alert, constantly scanning for threats, the psychological symptoms appear as an intense and disruptive sense of unreality and detachment, a fear of losing control or going crazy, or even an overwhelming fear of dying.
The first sign of physical symptoms is hyperventilation, which is not caused by a lack of O2, as most people believe, but it is caused by breathing out too much CO2 before you can produce more.
Thus, it reduces blood flow to the brain and causes symptoms such as very alert breathing, heart rate, body tension, and chest pain. That is why there are cases when panic attacks are also confused with heart attack symptoms.
The respiratory difficulty appears with the sensation of suffocation and dizziness, sometimes accompanied by nausea, pain in the abdominal area, tremors, chills, or heat waves, followed by sweating.
All these physical sensations lead to emotional insecurity, loss of control, and even difficulty in verbalizing.
While the triggers of their occurrence are unknown, panic attacks are often associated with various factors that influence their presence: stressful life situations, intense emotional states, health conditions, genetic predisposition, depression, and substance use.
FINDING CALM AND BALANCE THROUGH TAILORED BREATHING TECHNIQUES
Breath is the link between mind and body, and each breathing exercise has a different purpose, depending on the person’s physical energy and mental needs.
That is why I suggest you try and discover which of these techniques best suits you.
They help you by releasing oxytocin (it reduces fears and increases confidence at the behavioral level), calming the mind and body, and bringing you into a state of relaxation and balance.
SLOW CONTROL BREATHING
I recommend this step before each breathing technique.
In the case of panic attacks, you experience very short and accelerated breaths that do not allow you to take a deep inhale.
Inhaling fills you with energy and power, and exhaling frees you from your inner fear and makes relaxation possible. Inhale the future, and exhale the past!
Therefore, the first thing I recommend you do in case of panic attacks is to exhale deeply until the air is completely removed from the lungs. Then, the body will naturally take air to fill them back.
Challenge: You can do this test right now out of curiosity.
Breathe several times, quickly and briefly, for a few seconds, and then try to inhale very deeply. You will have a feeling of blockage and limitation of air.
Now, try what I recommend!
Once again, breathe quickly and briefly for a few seconds, but this time, exhale deeply the air from your lungs, leaving them to work naturally afterward.
Your back of the neck and your shoulders will get relaxed; you will feel your breathing slowing down and becoming more controlled.
After this small step, you can continue with one of the breathing techniques below.
6 BREATHING TECHNIQUES FOR PANIC ATTACKS
CALM BREATH BUBBLE
Imagine a bubble that swells and deflates. Now, do the exercise for a minute, inhale through your nose, and exhale slowly through your mouth for instant relaxation.
In this technique, you inhale the same amount of time as you exhale, paying attention to an extended length of your breath.
Find a comfortable position. You can sit or lie down. If you sit, close your eyes or rest your gaze on a spot on the floor. Be mindful, ground yourself into here and now, paying attention to the breath.
Take a moment to equalize your breathing, slowing down the lengthiness of your in and out breaths.
Inhale slowly for 4 seconds through your nose, and exhale for 4 seconds through your mouth. Try to lengthen the breath in and out to 5 seconds, and so on till 8 seconds.
If you lose the count, start fresh with the next breath. This exercise helps you as well to reduce the physical symptoms of panic attacks.
CARBON DIOXIDE REBREATHING
Do you remember the old trick for panic attacks with the paper bag? Well, this is about. Take a paper bag, put it in your mouth, inhale deeply through your nose, and exhale through your mouth. If you do not have a paper bag, you can use your hands and put them over your mouth.
NAVY SEAL BREATHING TECHNIQUE (4:4:4)
- Get comfy – sit, stand, or lay down in bed.
- Close your eyes, push your lungs forward, and listen to your breath.
- Inhale slowly through your nostrils until you count to four, and fill your chest and belly with air.
- Hold your breath until you count to four.
- Exhale slowly through your mouth until you count to four.
- You can do five cycles of this exercise.
I recommend doing this technique, not just in case of panic attacks. You can do it in the morning or the evening because it reduces anxiety and stress and detoxifies your body.
DEEP DIAPHRAGMATIC BREATHING (OR BELLY BREATHING)
This technique can be used:
- Standing up;
- Laying down on the floor or in bed with pillows under your head and knees;
- Sitting on a chair without being supported by the seat backrest. Keep your back upright, your head, neck, and shoulders relaxed, and your feet on the floor.
Put one hand on your chest and another one on your belly, two fingers below the navel.
As I said, the first step is to exhale the air and inhale it through your nose, breathing more slowly and deeply than usual.
The diaphragm expands with the air, and you feel the low hand from your belly rising.
The top hand from your chest should not be moving or moving just a little.
Hold the air for 3 seconds, and exhale through your mouth, engaging your stomach to push the air out with every breath.
You can do 4-5 cycles of this breathing technique. This exercise can be done whenever you feel your body gets nervous.
You can use it even when you are calm during the day. In this way, you become more of an expert, making it easier even in public.
ALTERNATE NOSTRIL BREATHING (NADISHODHANA/ANULOMA VILLOMA PRANAYAMA)
In this technique, the breath is alternated between the left and right nostrils, with or without (in this case) retention of the breath. The breath should be slow and controlled but not forced or restricted in some way.
Be sure you have the airway clear before starting this breathing technique,
Blow your nose if you need to. Avoid this technique until you can breathe smoothly again if you have a cold and your airway is blocked.
Sit on the chair with your sole touching the floor, or on the pillow with the legs crossed or in a meditative posture. Keep your back and head straight, the neck large, and your eyes closed.
Put your left hand on your left knee in Jnana Mudra (the palm up, with the thumb and index attached, and the three fingers left extended).
The right hand should be in Vishnu Mudra, as in the video. Fold the index and middle finger in your palm, and close your right nostril with your right thumb.
Inhale through the left nostril for 5 seconds. Open the right nostril, close the left one with the ring finger and pinkie, and exhale through the right nostril for 5 seconds.
Inhale through the right nostril for 5 seconds; open the left nostril and close the right one. Exhale through the left nostril for 5 seconds.
You can repeat five rounds of Anuloma Villoma Pranayama.
The simple act of regulating the breath brings results and guarantees the good functioning of the body and mind. It eliminates toxins and brings energy and healing oxygen, giving you strength and vitality.
Your breath is your first tool that can deal with many issues in your life.
Unfortunately, in many cases, you do not focus on breathing, so you do not give proper attention to how you do it.
I recommend using these simple techniques not only in the case of panic attacks but you can implement them in your daily life.
Thus, you learn to breathe with consciousness, which is the key to balance, harmony, peace of mind, body, and emotions.
Till next time…
Master Your Breath And Give To It Gracefulness!
Founder of Dare & Be.