A panic attack is a sudden onset of fear or anxiety, and there are ways to stop it by meditational breathing techniques. If you’ve ever experienced one, you know that they may cause shortness of breath, trembling, chest pain, and a fear or feeling like you may be dying or losing control. That fear causes even more anxiety, fueling the attack. However, since panic attacks are a result of your body’s misguided fight or flight response, you can counteract it with relaxation. And the best way to do with is with controlled breathing.
Jessica Page of Livestrong explains these breathing techniques to stop a panic attack:
Breathe Slowly and Deeply
Shallow, rapid breathing makes panic worse. Slower, deeper breathing relaxes the body, slows heart rate and demonstrates to the body that everything is okay. One way to see if your breathing is deep enough is if your belly rises and falls as you breathe. Place your hands over your belly so you can feel the air being pulled deep into the diaphragm. Try to make your hands rise and fall as your breathing slows.
Slowing the rate that you breathe out will make your body more relaxed. Extend how long it takes to exhale, and be sure to exhale completely. With each breath, try to increase the amount of time it takes to push all the air out of your lungs.
Don’t Blow Out the Candle
One way to slow down your breathing is to pretend that there is a lit candle in front of you that you don’t want to blow out. (Of course, you can practice with a real candle as well.) Blowing at a flame gently enough that it doesn’t go out guarantees a slow, measured exhalation that will lower your heart rate and make you feel more relaxed.
Inhale Nose, Exhale Mouth
It’s easy for your mind to wander while you’re trying to slow down your breathing. Instead, give yourself something to focus on. Breathing in through the nose and out through the mouth is unnatural and requires concentration. Directing your attention to your breathing in this way will distract you from anxious thoughts and allow you to gain greater control over your breathing.
An estimated 60 million Americans will suffer a panic attack at some point in their lives. By practicing these breathing techniques, you will have the tools to help reduce or stop a panic attack.
Do you suffer from anxiety or panic attacks? What other tips can you give our readers who may be experiencing the same? Use the comment box below.