Breathing Through Panic: Practical Techniques for Control

One typical and normal reaction to the stresses in our life is anxiety. While occasional anxiety is common, persistent anxiety can have a negative influence on our everyday lives and general wellbeing. Panic episodes are a common sign of anxiety and can be extremely frightening and overpowering. Nonetheless, there are methods and approaches that people can use to better control their anxiety and deal with panic episodes. Focused breathing is one such effective technique. We will look at a variety of breathing exercises and other methods for controlling anxiety and breathing through panic in this article.

Recognizing Panic Attacks and Anxiety:

It’s critical to comprehend the differences between anxiety and panic episodes before diving into anxiety management techniques. Anxiety, which manifests as feelings of concern, uneasiness, and unease, is a normal reaction to stress or perceived threats. Anxiety can be a normal part of life, but excessive or persistent anxiety can negatively impact one’s quality of life and ability to go about everyday tasks.

Conversely, panic attacks are severe bouts of terror or panic that frequently strike without prior notice or warning. Panic attack symptoms can include shaking, shortness of breath, rapid heartbeat, dizziness, chest pain, and a feeling of impending doom. Although they can be crippling and horrifying, panic attacks do not pose a threat to life.

Breathing Methods for Managing Anxiety:

Deep Breathing: When experiencing anxiety or panic, deep breathing is a straightforward but powerful method for soothing the body and mind. Sit or lie down in a comfortable posture, placing one hand on your abdomen, and begin practicing deep breathing. Breathe deeply through your nose, letting your stomach expand as air enters your lungs. After holding your breath for a short while, slowly expel the air through your mouth, allowing your abdomen to drop. Several times over, repeat this technique while paying attention to the pattern of your breath and the feeling of calm that comes with each exhale.

Dr. Andrew Weil pioneered the 4-7-8 breathing technique, which is a potent relaxation technique that can ease anxiety and encourage serenity. Starting with a full mouth exhale and a whooshing sound as you expel the air, practice 4-7-8 breathing. Shut your mouth and take four calm, inhaled breaths via your nose. For seven counts, hold your breath. Next, make another whooshing sound and exhale hard through your mouth for eight counts. For four breaths, repeat this cycle three more times.

Square breathing, another name for box breathing, is a method that many people employ to reduce tension and anxiety. Imagine drawing a square with four equal sides to get a sense of box breathing. Take four deep breaths through your nose, letting your belly swell with each inhale. For four counts, hold your breath. For four counts, slowly and fully release the breath via your mouth. When the count of four has been reached, finally stop and hold your breath once more before starting the following cycle. Iterate through this procedure multiple times, paying attention to the steady cadence of your breath and the feeling of calm that comes with each release.

Additional Techniques for Managing Anxiety:

Meditation with awareness: In mindfulness meditation, you focus on the current moment while letting go of any judgment. People can learn to monitor their thoughts and feelings without becoming overwhelmed by them by consistently engaging in mindfulness meditation practices. This can be especially beneficial for anxiety management and lowering the frequency and severity of panic episodes.

Progressive Muscle Relaxation: This method comprises tensing and relaxing several bodily muscle groups in succession. People can relieve physical tension and encourage relaxation throughout their bodies by methodically tensing and relaxing their muscles. This can assist reduce anxiety and lessen the chance of panic episodes.

Cognitive behavioral therapy, sometimes known as CBT, is a form of psychotherapy that has been shown to be very successful in treating anxiety disorders, including panic disorder. Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) assists people in recognizing and disputing harmful thought patterns and beliefs that fuel anxiety and panic episodes. People can learn to better control their anxiety and lessen the frequency and severity of panic attacks by altering the way they think and act in anxiety-inducing situations.

  1. Deep Belly Breathing: Begin by finding a comfortable seated position or lying down. Place one hand on your chest and the other on your abdomen. Inhale deeply through your nose, allowing your abdomen to rise as you fill your lungs with air. Exhale slowly through your mouth, feeling your abdomen fall. Focus on making your exhalation longer than your inhalation, gradually slowing down your breath. Repeat this process for several minutes, allowing yourself to sink into a state of relaxation.
  2. 4-7-8 Breathing: This technique, popularized by Dr. Andrew Weil, is simple yet effective for calming the nervous system. Start by exhaling completely through your mouth, making a whooshing sound. Then, close your mouth and inhale quietly through your nose for a count of four. Hold your breath for a count of seven. Finally, exhale forcefully through your mouth, making a whooshing sound, for a count of eight. Repeat this cycle four times, noticing how your body and mind begin to unwind with each breath.
  3. Box Breathing: Picture a square divided into four equal parts. Inhale slowly through your nose for a count of four as you trace the first side of the square. Hold your breath for a count of four as you trace the second side. Exhale slowly through your nose or mouth for a count of four as you trace the third side. Hold your breath again for a count of four as you complete the square. Repeat this pattern for several rounds, allowing yourself to synchronize your breath with the visual imagery of the square.
  4. Alternate Nostril Breathing: Sit in a comfortable position with your spine straight. Place your left hand on your left knee, palm facing up, or in Chin Mudra (tips of thumb and index finger gently touching). Use your right thumb to close your right nostril and inhale deeply through your left nostril. Then, use your right ring finger to close your left nostril and exhale completely through your right nostril. Inhale deeply through your right nostril, then close it with your right thumb and exhale through your left nostril. Continue this pattern, alternating nostrils with each breath. This technique balances the flow of energy in the body and promotes a sense of calm and focus.

In summary:

It can be difficult to control anxiety and get through panic episodes, but it is doable with the correct methods and approaches. People can learn to manage their anxiety more skillfully and lead happier, more fulfilled lives by adopting concentrated breathing exercises, mindfulness meditation, progressive muscle relaxation, and cognitive-behavioral therapy into their everyday routines. Recall that dealing with anxiety is a journey, and that you must have patience and self-compassion along the way. You may regain control over your life and learn to breathe through terror with perseverance and practice.