Learning how to make breathing your number one tool
Do you regularly feel panicky? Does your heart race when you’re scared? Do you bite your nails and let your eyes well up when it is all too much?
There is a simple tool that we seem to over look, that we do every second of every day in our life. Breathe. It can be hard to breathe when having panic attacks, but fighting that struggle and forcing those breaths is the best first step, to reaching a place of calm.
Breathing is such a powerful tool when it comes to anxiety and one that many forget to focus on. When I was a child, experiencing panic attacks was unfortunately a daily occurrence for me and one piece of advice, that I can so vividly hear in my mind, is my parents and family members telling me ‘take a deep breath’. At the time, I thought that was the most useless thing anyone could say to me. However, by making me take slow deep breaths, it was, in fact stopping my heart from racing at 100mph and stopped my hands from shaking. It stopped a lot of the darkness, that overcame me during those panic attacks and made things seem much lighter.
There are so many apps, videos, little reminders and exercises that you can do daily, that not only help calm your worried thoughts, but they can help improve your health and breathing in general. It is said that we only use 50-60% of our lung capacity, when we breathe. That is a good 40% of panic attack calming, air inhalations we could be filling our lungs with!
Let’s practice, shall we?
Here is a very easy exercise found via the NHS:
- Let your breath flow as deep down into your belly as is comfortable, without forcing it.
- Try breathing in through your nose and out through your mouth.
- Breathe in gently and regularly. Some people find it helpful to count steadily from one to five. You may not be able to reach five at first.
- Then, without pausing or holding your breath, let it flow out gently, counting from one to five again, if you find this helpful.
- Keep doing this for three to five minutes
Now ask yourself ‘how do I feel?’
Never underestimate the power of deep breaths and the calming effect it can have over you.