Anxiety or Panic Attacks? Don’t Panic; I Can Breathe!
A panic attack is as sudden as it is dramatic and can occur at unexpected times, whether or not the reason for it is well identified. With the help of specific breathing exercises, which are easy and discreet enough to do anywhere, I can quickly regain calm during periods of anxiety. I make up my own list of mantras to gain confidence and remember that I already have the necessary resources within me to face any situation calmly!
Why Does Breathing Well Calm Me Down During Periods of Anxiety?
When my brain thinks it perceives danger, whether real or not, my body conditions itself to deal with it. My heart rate increases, I hyperventilate as my chest tightens and my throat closes up, all of which contributes to my panic, as I believe I am facing a serious condition. However, as dramatic as it is, an anxiety attack is not at all dangerous for your health.
Almost everyone experiences at least one high-stress situation in their lives that results in an anxiety attack. If I understand how my body works, I can easily regain calm.
My 5 Breathing Exercises to Find Calm
My best ally? Breathing. By controlling my breathing, I improve the oxygenation of my brain and give my body the signal that everything is fine. With the right breathing techniques, my diaphragm relaxes, my heart rate slows down, and everything returns to normal within minutes! Here are 5 exercises I can do anywhere to quickly calm myself down when I’m feeling anxious.
Inspired by yoga, square breathing takes its name from its execution of 4 steps:
- I breathe in deeply through my nose and count to 4.
- I hold my breath for 4 seconds.
- I always breathe out through my nose and count to four.
- I hold my breath for 4 seconds.
I can practice this simple exercise wherever I am: about twenty cycles are usually enough to help me find inner peace.
Cardiac coherence is a quick way to find relief from anxiety. I can practice this exercise every day to benefit from its long-term effects: reducing cortisol (the stress hormone), lowering blood pressure, improving focus and concentration, and more. In an emergency situation, it is also a very good way to return to serenity and calm heart palpitations due to stress. The principle is simple and easy to remember: you only need to breathe 6 times per minute, i.e. count to 5 during each inhalation and exhalation.
If this exercise works for me, I adopt the 365 rule: 3 times a day of breathing 6 times a minute for 5 minutes.
An ideal breathing technique for sports, abdominal breathing offers the equivalent of an internal massage that helps relax the diaphragm, the muscle that contracts during breathing. To make sure I’m breathing through my belly, I place my hand under my navel so I can feel my belly inflate like a balloon with each breath. I breathe in through my nose, slowly and deeply, and then breathe out slowly through my mouth. After several cycles, I feel relaxed and can breathe more freely. All is well!
Reverse breathing is the exact opposite of abdominal breathing. It also has a massaging effect that helps to relax the diaphragm. Sitting cross-legged, I draw in my belly on the inhale by contracting my perineum and imagining my diaphragm sliding up my chest, under my rib cage. I inhale through my nose and exhale by blowing the air out through my mouth while mobilising my abdominal muscles. I can do this exercise in addition to another breathing technique for 4 or 5 cycles.
To get rid of the tightness in the chest that is typical of stress and panic situations, I try chest breathing:
- Standing with my shoulders back, I bend my arms and bring them to my chest.
- I slowly breathe in through my nose while spreading my arms.
- I breathe out through my mouth, bringing my arms back to my sides, still folded.
Positive Thinking: My Mantras to Regain Confidence and Serenity
I now know that all I need to do to keep control of my emotions is breathe well. In order to gain confidence and to remember this no matter what happens, #ProFormTeam has selected 3 examples of mantras inspired by sophrology techniques, to be repeated over and over again and above all, to be personalised:
- I am safe, and all is well.
- I can’t control everything in life, but I choose to be at peace.
- I am here, I breathe, and I accept this moment: after all, everything must pass.
Repeating positive phrases aloud, quietly or in my head, in the present tense, and in the first person is an effective way to regain calm.