The best breathing technique for a panic attack

Here I will show you my all time favorite breathing technique for a panic attack.

If you know me, you’ll know I am hand’s on. I don’t want someone to tell me what to do, I like to try it for myself. That is how I learn, by feeling and experiencing. Show me a breathing technique and I have to try it right away to see how it feels in my body and see if I feel different after it.

anxiety treatment

Give yourself the next five minutes to relax.

I want you to experience this breathing technique for yourself.

Take a moment to scan yourself and see how you feel.

How intense or stressed do I feel? 

What is on my mind? 

Is there any pain or tension?

Don’t dwell here, simply register it as if you are an objective witness.

Now, push play and close your eyes. I’ll explain it all.

The best breathing technique for a panic attack:

Now, scan yourself again.

What do you notice?

Why does this breathing technique work for a panic attack?

Anxiety needs brain space to perpetuate your negative thoughts and fear response.

Breathing helps calm your nervous system physiologically, but sometimes during high anxiety merely focusing on the breath is not enough distraction. It doesn’t take the brain space.

The counting and complex pattern helps takes the space.

Doing both of them together works beautifully.

(There are tons of yogic breathing techniques you can learn to calm panic, but I love this one so much because it is simple and easy to remember!)

Calming from an Anxiety attack

Once the cognitive side of your brain knows you are not in physical danger, it takes a few minutes for your body to calm down from the boost of adrenaline of the panic attack.

You calm on your own in those minutes, if and only if your thoughts and emotions don’t keep re-triggering the panic.

You stop re-triggering if you are distracted or don’t stress about the physical response.

Try this breathing and counting pattern to stop an anxiety attack quickly and painlessly.

What was your experience? 

25 thoughts on “The best breathing technique for a panic attack”

  1. Hi Jodi,

    That was lovely 🙂

    I think it’s so important to breathe right, something I keep telling my kids too as you solve half your health problems that ways. Yes, when we panic or are anxious, the breathing changes and that can cause further health issues if you are already a blood pressure patient or have hypertension. You need to learn to relax and stay calm, and learn the right breaking techniques, just as you mentioned.

    Thanks for sharing. Have a nice week ahead 🙂

  2. Hi Jodi,

    You are right, its only through experience that we get convinced and I loved this one. It is interesting to note your analysis but I have a question…does a strong mind too react in the same manner? I have always felt that emotions and feelings can be controlled by practice if we strengthen our mind.
    Thanks for sharing!
    Balroop Singh recently posted..Laughter Therapy…To Remain Emotionally Healthy.My Profile

    1. I think I know what you mean. The fear response is biological and reacts from a memory of a fear trigger. So say you have had trauma in the past, you may have more triggers. This doesn’t mean your mind is weaker, actually is it set up biologically for survival to make you stronger. However, the triggers that induce panic may not actually be life threatening. This doesn’t mean you are weak, it’s not cognitive at all. Our cortex (cognition) overrides this but it takes a beat. This is where our practice comes in. This practice makes the override easier. But also we can practice and change the fear memories to no longer trigger us. Hope that explains it!
      Jodi Aman recently posted..The best breathing technique for a panic attackMy Profile

  3. Sebastian Aiden Daniels

    This was a great technique. It is very similar to the techniques I learned in DBT. I find that deep breathing is a key component of good mental health. In times of high distress, counting is also a good way to distract yourself until the wave of emotion has passed.

  4. I love breathing exercises. I did hypnobirthing when I was pregnant with my daughter. I loved it. It makes such a difference. The nurses in the hospital were convinced I must have given birth before because I was so calm and didn’t complain about the pain even though I had no meds for it. It really works.
    Kelly Hashway recently posted..Monday Mishmash: 6/9/14My Profile

  5. I’ve run into an interesting problem: my mind knows when I’m trying to calm it which makes it panic even more (Calm down. Just CALM down. CALM DOWN!). haha It’s weird, I know, but how can I trick my anxiety so it doesn’t see the breathing/soothing as a sign something’s really wrong?

  6. Don @ Breath of Optimism

    Thankfully I’ve never had a panic attack (and hopefully never will) but I can see how using this breathing technique can help someone get through it.

  7. Hi Jodi
    Solution of every stressful moment does not lie in deep breathing or breathing in fresh air. Sometimes it is necessary to first compose yourself and then normalize your breathing.
    Actually this is our sinking feeling which disturbs us from head to toe and we think as if just heaven is going to fall down on us in state of panic. Emergency response attitude is must to tackle any kind of difficult situation.
    Thanks a lot for sharing this wonderful post.

  8. Beverly Zagofsky

    I teach my clients a similar one. But if you don’t mind, I might post thus on my website.
    Let me know

  9. Beverly Zagofsky

    I use a similar one with my patients. If you don’t mind I might post this on my website. Thank you for sharing.

  10. Good stuff Jodi. I think I may have mentioned to you that focusing on my breathing is one of the techniques I used to help combat my alcoholism. When an urge to have a drink or a withdrawal symptom came up I would simply choose to concentrate on my breath and then the next one and the next one taking my mind off the urge and or pain.

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