Breathing retraining can make a big difference in managing and preventing Anxiety Panic Attacks Insomnia, and the associated symptoms.
What is Anxiety?
Anxiety is a feeling of apprehension, tension, fear or jitteriness. We all experience anxiety at one time or another, it is a normal human experience – it keeps us safe at times of danger. Unfortunately however, many people experience anxiety on a daily basis, ranging from a mild feeling of unease to crippling panic attacks with extreme fear and sense of impending doom.
What is a Panic Attack?
A panic attack is a sudden surge of overwhelming anxiety and fear. It may be a response to stressful or dangerous situations or to anxiety. Sometimes the panic can seem to appear out of the blue, or you can wake with it from a bad dream or following a sleep apnoea episode.
The accompanying physical symptoms can be equally disturbing. Your breathing speeds up, your heart pounds, your armpits drip. You may be dizzy or nauseous, feel dazed and confused, and you may find it difficult to breathe.
What is insomnia?
Insomnia is difficulty falling asleep, staying asleep, or returning to sleep. It is classified as a sleep disorder. The common short-term effect is tiredness and excessive daytime sleepiness, but if insomnia occurs night after night it can be debilitating. The cumulative long-term effects of sleep loss have been associated with a wide range of health consequences including an increased risk of diabetes, depression, high blood pressure, stroke and heart attack.
What is the breathing connection?
Acute hyperventilation/overbreathing is an obvious feature during a panic attack. While less noticeable, an unconscious, chronic overbreathing habit is common in people with anxiety, panic disorders and chronic insomnia. Research has found people with panic disorders breathing 12litres of air a minute at rest when it should be about 5L.
Chronic overbreathing contributes to a hyper-arousal state of your ‘sympathetic’ nervous system (fight or flight). Overbreathing excites your brain and makes muscles tense, with too much of the stress hormones, adrenaline and cortisol being produced. Chronic overbreathing is like having your foot on the accelerator all the time. You are ‘primed’ and trigger happy. None of this is conducive to calm, dealing well with stress, or sleep.
With a further increase in breathing when you are in a physically or emotionally stressful situation, your muscles tense up, your adrenal glands pump out even more adrenaline and you may tip into the distressing physical and mental symptoms of a panic attack.
Get Help – Breathing Retraining
With breathing retraining you are correcting your baseline breathing pattern and learning to control your breathing when under stress. It can make a big difference in both managing and preventing anxiety, panic attacks, insomnia, and the associated symptoms.
Normal breathing and controlled breathing are very calming. They are a natural sedative. Breathing retraining shows you how to access the parasympathetic– rest and digest – state of your autonomic nervous system. It’s a wonderful tool to have to calm your mind, calm your nervous system, stay relaxed and in control in stressful situations, calm your body and get off to sleep.
While it is important to identify and address the cause(s) of anxiety and insomnia, the better your baseline breathing pattern, the less likely you are to experience it.
Take the Faulty Breathing Quiz
Online Breathing Course – BreatheAway | Instructor: Tess Graham
Book: Relief from Anxiety and Panic: by changing how you breathe. Author Tess Graham. A 9-day program to take control of your physiology and regain calm, focus and ease
CD: Breathing Exercise Instruction CD – a companion product to the book.
MP3: Breathing Exercise Instruction CD – a companion product to the book.