I went to visit my naturopath today and she asked how much anxiety and panic I was having and it led to a really interesting discussion when I mentioned that I find the deep breathing techniques that are taught and meant to calm you down, in fact sends me into more of a tizzy as I feel I hyperventilate even more and it seems to extend my panic attack out even more. I thought I was a weirdo for feeling this way, how can something that people swear by, not work for me???
It was when she told me that panic usually occurs when your body is over oxygenated that it made sense why deep breathing once I am in that cycle wasn’t working. The best thing that I could possibly do to myself when I was in it, was to get carbon dioxide back into my system to level my body out.
There are a number of ways you can do this – through holding your breath for a moment, breathing into a paper bag or if one isn’t available breathing into cupped hands or similar so you are breathing in the same air you just expelled. The thought of holding my breath really doesn’t sit right for me so I have grabbed some paper bags to have in my handbag and car and if I am in too public a place where I may look a bit strange using the bag, I will use my cupped hands! And only look marginally less weird for doing it!! You don’t need to do it for long – from a few seconds to a few minutes, depending on the attack, (you will know how long it is necessary for) just enough that the major eye of the cyclone has passed and you can start to rationally introduce all of the coping mechanisms you have been taught to get yourself through it. Don’t overdo it, it is literally just a quick moment to get you levelled out and back in the drivers seat again.
If you do suffer and have always felt the usual breathing techniques just do not work for you, give it a go. I know it has brought a huge light bulb moment to myself and I cannot wait to see the changes this will help bring. Not only when I am in a panic, but also knowing I have it in my arsenal of tricks to help pre-empt an attack in the first place. If the bag of tricks that you are already using works – then by all means keep going with that. I just know myself that the deep, slow, counting type breathing just does not work for me.
Now don’t get me wrong, there are numerous fantastic breathing exercises that can help calm you before a panic attack strikes. This is for when there is a point of no return and you are in the dizzying fun-ness of an attack and just can’t seem to find your way out of it. It may not be for everyone, it may not work for everyone. There are many amazing techniques out there that seem to work for one and not for another so it is finding those techniques and coping strategies that are right for you and you alone. For me, this makes sense and helps.
Till next time… keep walking your spiritual path xx