Stop A Panic Attack In Its Tracks With This Breathing Technique

Feeling like the world is closing in can be incredibly debilitating and, even when armed with tools to help move through it, it can feel as if there's nothing that can help. But, instead of trying to calm yourself down with deep breathing, Mindbodygreen suggests a different type of breath that may help relax your system in a different way when you feel a panic attack coming on.

Indeed, Tanya G.K. Bentley, Ph.D., shares an intentional practice to hyperventilate. While most advice shares how to do the opposite to flood your system with oxygen, this practice helps you feel back in control when your breath starts to shorten rather than being at the mercy of what's happening around you. Essentially, your body understands that you're doing it on purpose — helping you feel more in control. "Doing it intentionally and in a relaxed manner and setting can actually help open up the lungs," says Dr. Bentley, "so that when one does try to breathe in fully, it actually relieves that feeling."

When you feel yourself starting to panic, try taking in three quarters of an inhale rather than a deep breath in and continue with these types of breaths. The outlet suggests taking between five and 20 of these inhales to start.

Shallow inhales may help curtail a panic attack

The sense of control over your panic attack may help your system relax to a point at which it feels settled. Dr. Bentley tells Mindbodygreen that it may not be a pleasant experience, but at least it helps the body maintain a sense of control. By the time you take a full inhale after taking five to 20 rounds of this technique, your lungs will feel flooded with air and relax.

The reason your breathing gets affected by panic attacks has to do with the flight-or-fight response, VeryWell Health explains. When this happens, your body is preparing to fight and protect itself against a threat and thus tries to inhale more air to do so. But, by practicing deep breathing on a regular basis, you help to stimulate your vagus nerve and thus relax your system to a state of peace, Mindbodygreen explains. When feeling a panic attack or nerves coming on, you can opt for the controlled hyperventilation technique or keep your breathing long and slow if possible.

Adding a mantra to keep in your back pocket when a panic attack arises is another worthwhile technique to help yourself cope. VeryWell Health suggests using one such as "this will pass" and "I'm going to be okay".

Of course, seeing your doctor can help if you're struggling with these attacks regularly.