When you feel a panic attack coming on, the most important thing is to stop whatever you’re doing (especially if you’re driving), sit down in a comfortable and safe place, and try to regulate your breathing. Focus on your slow breathing and it will become a style of meditation. Once you’re back to semi-regular breathing and you feel strong enough to try some more effective remedies, attempt any of the exercises below.
Stop breathing! Try and hold your breath. You don’t need to do it for very long, and certainly not so long that your panic becomes worse, but four repetitions of holding your breath for about ten seconds will be enough.
Paper bag breathing! Although you may think this is an old wives’ tale, this is a technique that really works. The science is the same as for stopping breathing, you’re restoring the levels of carbon dioxide in your lungs, blood and body, thereby rebalancing the necessary PH levels in your blood.
Diaphragm breathing! The diaphragm is a muscle at the bottom of your lungs that controls the airflow into your body. You can feel it by putting your hand on the top of the stomach and breathing deeply in and out. Try breathing and simultaneously mentally picturing your diaphragm muscle working. Put your hand on your stomach and feel it go up and down. Exaggerate this.
Go for a run! Get the heart beating and break a sweat. Your body will adjust to its natural, necessary breathing rhythms and your panic should dissipate.
Any of these exercises, when combined with sensible panic management can help alleviate the problems that so many of face when the breath starts to come hard!
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