Panic attacks can be overwhelming and distressing, often leaving individuals feeling helpless and out of control. Some people even suffer from panic disorder, which is characterized by frequent, long-lasting panic attacks. However, one powerful tool that can help manage the symptoms of a panic attack is simple and accessible: your breath. Here are five effective breathing techniques that can help you find calm amidst the storm.
One of the most fundamental techniques for managing panic attacks is diaphragmatic breathing, also known as belly breathing. Start by finding a comfortable position, either sitting or lying down. Place one hand on your chest and the other on your abdomen. Take a slow, deep breath through your nose, feeling your abdomen rise as you inhale. Exhale slowly through your mouth, allowing your abdomen to fall. Repeat this process, focusing on the sensation of your breath moving in and out of your body. Diaphragmatic breathing promotes relaxation, decreases the heart rate, and helps counteract hyperventilation.
Box breathing is a structured technique that can bring immediate relief during a panic attack. Visualize a square shape in your mind. Inhale deeply through your nose for a count of four, imagining the first side of the square. Hold your breath for another count of four, visualizing the second side. Exhale slowly through your mouth for a count of four, envisioning the third side of the square. Finally, hold your breath for a count of four, completing the square. Repeat this cycle several times, allowing the rhythmic pattern to center your focus and regulate your breathing.
The 4-7-8 breathing technique is a powerful exercise for inducing relaxation and reducing anxiety. Sit comfortably and place the tip of your tongue against the ridge of tissue behind your upper front teeth. Close your mouth and inhale silently through your nose to a mental count of four. Hold your breath for a count of seven. Exhale completely through your mouth, making a whooshing sound, to a count of eight. This cycle constitutes one breath. Repeat this process at least four times, and as you become more comfortable, gradually increase the number of repetitions. The 4-7-8 technique helps regulate breathing, slows the heart rate, and promotes a sense of tranquility.
Alternate Nostril Breathing
Originating from ancient yogic practices, alternate nostril breathing is a balancing technique that promotes harmony within the body and mind. Sit in a comfortable position and use your right hand to block your right nostril with your thumb. Inhale deeply through your left nostril. After completing the inhalation, release your thumb and press your right ring finger against your left nostril to block it. Exhale slowly through your right nostril. Inhale through your right nostril, release the finger from your left nostril, and block your right nostril again. Repeat this cycle for several minutes, alternating nostrils. Alternate nostril breathing encourages a sense of balance, clears the mind, and reduces stress.
Contact Maryland Primary Care and Wellness today if you suffer from panic attacks. We can help you come up with treatment options and walk you through exercises you can use to calm your panic attacks.