After experiencing another anxiety attack that was exhausting, scary, overwhelming I needed to find something that would give me the control back and help me overcome these episodes. In the moment, when my ability to be logical and clear thinking had gone, I needed something simple yet effective.
If you have ever experienced a panic or anxiety attack you will know the scary physical symptoms they can cause. Your body goes into 'fight and flight' mode, a survival mode almost. The body sends a surge of adrenaline and cortisol through the body to prepare itself for the perceived danger ahead.
The Affect Of Shallow Breathing On Anxiety
One of the most dramatic physical symptoms is the impact it has on your breathing. Our breathing changes to being shallow and rapid which can cause dizziness and lead to hyperventilation.
Shallow breathing is the body's natural response to preparing for 'fight or flight'. It wants more oxygen in the body, so raises the heartbeat and increases the breaths taken.
The problem with this, is with an anxiety or panic attack there is no danger, the body actually needs to relax rather then prepare to fight. It continues to release adrenaline leaving the body in a heightened state of stress.
When 'over-breathing' you can start to feel light headed, dizzy, chest pains and a rapid heartbeat, which can fuel the anxiety further.
The Benefit Of Deep Breathing On Anxiety
When we switch our breathing from the chest to the belly (diaphragmatic breathing) we can benefit our body mentally and physically.
When you use diaphragmatic breathing it triggers the parasympathetic nervous system, the 'rest and digest' system. This is the opposite to the 'Fight and Flight' response and so balances it out in the body allowing it to rest and recuperate. This relaxation response slows down the heart rate, helping the body release the tension and feelings of anxiety.
How Can Breathwork Help My Anxiety?
Natural techniques and exercises that you are in control of, that allow you to steady, regulate and most importantly elongate your out breath, will slow down your heart rate.
I have 2 breathing techniques that I use. The first is Square Breathing which is great for regulating your breathe. To find out more about this technique read my guide to using The Super Mumma Patch. The other is So Hum breathing, I use this one every day, to calm my anxiety, to help me fall asleep, to try and break my mind from intrusive thoughts.
Have you tried a breathing practice called Nadi Shodhana (Alternate Nostril Breathing)? Join Brenda Ward, Super Mumma Wellbeing Yoga Expert, for a 5 minute practice where she takes you through this amazing breathing technique which is great for anxiety.