Just Breathe

October 2 2017

Jacqueline Rosenhek

More likely than not, many of you have been told to breathe; as in breathe through pain, breathe through child labour, breathe through stress, illness, depression, excitement, physical activity, anything. The thing is that we know how to breathe, it is biological function that we just automatically do, so why do people tell us to breathe? Is there a proper way to breathe? Does our breathing pattern change from time to time? The answer to that is yes, it definitely does, but even more importantly, it is important to remember to breathe regularly, sounds easy right? Like many other things in life, if something seems like it should be easy, there is a very good chance it is not. Deep breathing exercises are typically used to help reduce the effects of a panic attack. When we panic, we typically begin to hyperventilate. Hyperventilating is when you take big, shallow, panicked breaths with quick succession between each breath, therefore destroying more carbon dioxide than what is actually being produced by the body.

If you are having a panic attack, generally speaking your main goal is to try to get through the panic without any troubles and to try to get back to a state of stability. However, before you can reach a state of stasis, you will need to retrain your body in that moment to breathe properly. When you hyperventilate you will end up feeling dizzy, nauseous and weak which can lead to vomiting, fainting and will likely leave you feeling worse than you did before. Unfortunately, hyperventilation is not a controlled action which makes it that much more terrible for people to experience. If you are willing and able to try some deep breathing exercises here is a step by step:

  1. Find a comfortable place to sit or lay down and try to catch your breath.
  2. Remove any tight and/or restrictive clothing that would have any amount of effect on your breathing.
  3. Slowly but surely, try to slowly and deeply breathe in through your nose and hold your breath for just a couple seconds; follow that up by exhaling slowly and gently.
  4. If necessary, find a paper bag to breathe in and out of. Place the paper bag over your nose and mouth and try to breathe into that. Breathing into a paper bag sometimes helps you reuse carbon-dioxide that would normally be lost on your exhalation which then helps in maintaining proper levels in the body which will help stop hyperventilation.


This is easier said than done, you still have to wrestle with your mind in order to tell yourself to calm down and breathe but you can. Before anything else you can do in order to calm down, you need to breathe through whatever anxiety or pain you are currently enduring, just retrain yourself to breathe and from there you will begin the process of helping yourself become more grounded.


2 years ago

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