Most if not all of the people who are experiencing Anxiety or Panic Attacks shallow breathe with their chest.
Controlling your breathing and learning to breathe correctly, will help you to control the effect that a Panic Attack has on you, and can have a huge impact on improving your quality of life and ability to cope with your symptoms.
Panic symptoms can be eased and controlled effectively using "Belly Breathing", which is breathing using your Diaphragm rather than your chest.
Like any new habit forming it takes practice, but once you have mastered the art of breathing through your Diaphragm when you are anxious, you will come to learn that it is one of the single best tools that you can use to regain your sense of calm and centre yourself
Hyperventilation is one of the key Panic symptoms to learn to control when you are working towards symptom remission and so learning to breathe correctly and counteract hyperventilation is really important in fact slow abdominal breathing alone has been proven to stop a panic attack in its track at any stage and is also essential in preventing Panic Attacks.
Often when we are hyperventilating you feel that you cannot breathe, as you feel like you cannot inhale a large breath.
You may feel as though you cannot breathe but as long as you can talk you can breathe. To be able to take a large breath in, you first need to take a large breath out and exhale. Exhaling with help with the inhaling.
How do you learn to breathe from your Diaphragm?
Here is a step by step guide to help you get started.
1. It's helpful to lie on your back for the initial period of learning until you understand what you are trying to achieve.
2. Place one of your hands (which ever feels most comfortable) on your chest and the other hand in between your ribs and your belly button.
3. Take a deep slow breath in and become aware of your belly rising and falling under your hand. Focus on your belly and imagining it rising and falling as you slowly breath. Remember your chest needs to be still as the breaths we are not wanting is the shallow chest breaths.
4. Aim for six to seven breaths per minute or so, this should be a slow and relaxed process, if you mind tries to come away from imagining your belly rising and falling as you breathe, gently return your focus to the job in hand. There should be hardly any effort in this, just real relaxed quiet time.
You are looking to feel your belly rising and falling and not your chest
You should try to set aside 5-10 minutes a day and always lie on your back for the first 1-2 weeks of practise, this will ensure you understand how to breathe so that your belly rises and not your chest. It will also begin to form the habit of relaxation and quiet time.
Once you have the hang of what you need to be doing, its then helpful to practise for 5- 10 minutes daily in a variety of positions and situations such as sitting and standing, driving or walking.
Try practising in your car as you drive along or while sitting eating, or walking to the shop, remember to practise daily is essential as we are not only trying to learn a technique we are also trying to form a habit that will spring into action quickly as and when you need it.