Breathing Exercises for Anxiety and Panic Attacks

Whether you are considering breathing exercises for anxiety or breathing exercises for panic, you should learn this information and easy process to carry out. We discuss how such exercises can be a very effective method of calming oneself and how they can yield a multitude of other benefits.


Breathing exercises are one of the most overlooked things for anxiety and panic, probably because they’re one of those things that needs to be done on a regular basis before one can recognize their benefits.

The reason you might dismiss the effectiveness of breathing exercises is because you have not had a chance to see the results of incorporating these exercises into a regular routine.  I am confident that you’ll find an improvement once this takes place.

I would like to share a technique that I read in Reader’s Digest.  It was written by a medical doctor.

Here were go:

The trick is to breathe using your stomach not your chest.  Breathing through your chest is a form of very shallow breathing which you don’t want to do.  This is in fact what many anxiety sufferers do and it exacerbates their anxiety.  Dr. Larry Deutsche, M.D. makes a very helpful statement: that over the years anxiety sufferers have got into the habit of shallow breathing.  This makes a lot of sense.

Let me explain it another way:

Imagine that you are trying to take in air through your stomach rather than your chest.  In other words, take a nice deep breath and watch your stomach rise.

You might try the following:

  1. lying flat on your back for several minutes (or as long as you wish);
  2. putting a pillow on your stomach;
  3. focus on trying to raise the pillow (which is now on your stomach) as much as you can;
  4. The more the pillow rises, the more air you take in.

This is proper breathing.

If you’ve ever observed newborn babies breathing, they understand proper breathing.  They breathe by raising their stomachs as opposed to their chests.

If you become accustomed to focusing on proper breathing, taking deep breaths — when under stress or feeling anxiety, you’ll notice the calming feeling it can bring.  You cause your physiology to relax instead of entering “fight or flight” mode.  As you may be aware, “fight or flight” is the process your body undergoes a panic attack.

As I said, a medical doctor wrote about this technique.  This doctor talked about a lung cancer patient he was treating.

At one point the patient became very agitated and distressed because he felt he couldn’t breathe.  The doctor suggested to the patient that he give this proper breathing technique a try and the doctor put his hand on the patient’s stomach and told him to breathe into his hand.

Well it wasn’t very long before the patients O2 stats (indicators of the amount of oxygen circulating in one’s bloodstream) and other physiological indicators had normalized and the patient was no longer anxious over his breathing.

I tell this story because it shows just how powerful proper breathing is, both mentally (by reducing one’s anxiety) and physically (as we can see the effect this had on normalizing this man’s physiology).

Additionally, here are some incentives about breathing exercises and panic, as noted by the Mayo Clinic:

  • Slowing your heart rate
  • Lowering blood pressure
  • Slowing your breathing rate
  • Increasing blood flow to major muscles
  • Reducing muscle tension and chronic pain
  • Improving concentration
  • Reducing anger and frustration
  • Boosting confidence to handle problems

As you control your breathing, through proper breathing as above, you control (reduce) your anxiety.

I closing, I urge you to really give proper breathing exercises a serious try.  Incorporating them into your daily routine will give you added empowerment with your emotional control.

For more information about these topics, and all about panic attacks and agoraphobia, sign up to The Panic Attack Recovery Newsletter (below).


References

Dr. Larry Deutsche. Relax and Conquer Anxiety MP3.
http://drlarry.com/

Mayo Clinic. Relaxation techniques: Try these steps to reduce stress. Retrieved June 13, 2013 from:
http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/relaxation-technique/SR00007

Readers Digest. 2002. Retrieved July 1, 2002.