Breathing Skills for Panic Attacks, part 2

slowed breathing

Slowed breathing

Last time I discussed a basic breathing skill. Let me ask some questions of you:

  • Did you feel like you were getting the air down toward your stomach? This is what diaphragm breathing feels like
  • Are you getting symptoms of anxiety when you practice? If you do, it’s probably due to breathing a little fast or becoming anxious about your breathing as you pay attention to it. Keep practicing, the anxiety will diminish
  • Trouble concentrating on counting? Practice will help, just redirect your attention back to the breath and the words when you wander. And be nice to yourself about it!

This time I’ll discuss slowed breathing. It’s designed to slow your breathing rate by matching your breathing to your counting. This is a small step along the path of using your breathing to help with panic attacks when they strike. Like last time, practice this twice per day, for 10 minutes each, for the next week. Here’s what I’ll ask you do:

As you breathe, count the number before inhaling; think the word “relax”, and then exhale. Put a little pause between each time you inhale and exhale.

You want to reach a rate of 10 breaths per minute. Breaking this down it means count (one second), inhale (two seconds), think “relax” (one second), then exhale (two seconds). Don’t worry about perfectly timing this, just do your best.

Continue to practice with one hand on your stomach and one on your chest if you like. This encourages diaphragm breathing.

Remember the main goals are to slow down your breathing while maintaining a smooth flow of air, and to use the diaphragm more than the chest

Think of the air as oozing and escaping from you rather than being suddenly blown out. For children using a balloon that loses air is a good concrete example. Remember to take a normal-sized breath rather than a huge breath.

Finally, remember to keep recording on your breathing skills record! Don’t forget, practice makes perfect! Practice this twice a day for about 10 minutes for seven days. There is a third part coming, but don’t rush through this.

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