Sometimes we can experience stress and anxiety that leads to uncomfortable and often distressing feelings. One of the most common is rapid breathing. When we are feeling anxious or distressed, our breathing often changes to quick and shallow intakes.
When this happens, we can feel short of breath and experiences frightening symptoms such as: increased heart rate, dizziness, feeling faint, feelings of struggling to breathe, shaking or trembling, sweating, numbness and tingling around our body and increased feelings of anxiousness. This is referred to as a panic attack.
Panic attacks can cause us overwhelming fear that something serious is about to happen to us and we feel like we are losing control. Panic attacks can be a frightening experience.
Diaphragm breathing is a simple, yet effective grounding technique to help us remain calm, reduce symptoms of anxiety, and reduce the duration and intensity of a panic attack.
To try this out:
First place one hand on your chest and one hand on your abdomen. What do you notice?
If your chest is rising with each breath, then you are taking shallow breaths.
To fully inflate your lungs with oxygen it’s important to breath using your diaphragm.
With each breath you take in, extend your abdomen outwards. Wait 4 seconds then exhale for 6 seconds. You will notice your abdomen gently fall as you breath out.
Now with your hands still on your chest and your abdomen, what do you notice?
Is your abdomen now rising and gently falling? This is diaphragm breathing.
Continue to practice this breathing technique. When you notice you’re feeling anxious, remember to check how you’re breathing.
The above information is to be used as a way to reduce symptoms of anxiety and panic. If you feel unwell or experience breathing difficulties or other concerning symptoms its important to first seek medical attention to rule out any other cause.