When we’re having a panic attack, or starting to feel anxious, our breathing often speeds up. We may even start to hyperventilate, or feel like we can’t breathe and are going to suffocate. The key to calming our breathing when we’re feeling anxious or starting to panic isn’t to breathe deeper, which can actually make things worse, but to breathe slower. This breathing exercise is a great way to slow down our breathing, by breathing out for twice as long as we breathe in.
Panic attacks, also known as anxiety attacks, are sudden and intense waves of anxiety that can leave you worried you’re having a heart attack, about to pass out, going crazy, or with any number of other fears that something is seriously wrong with your health. Panic attacks are terrifying in isolation, and panic disorder occurs when panic attacks arise on a regular basis.
The most effective treatment for panic attacks and panic disorder is Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, or CBT. In the videos below, learn how anxiety escalates into a panic attack, and how you can use CBT to defuse a panic attack and make it less likely you have panic attacks in the future.
The 5-4-3-2-1 grounding technique is a great coping exercise to calm panic attacks, anxiety, stress, or if we’re feeling overwhelmed. In the 5-4-3-2-1 grounding exercise, we reconnect with the world around us by engaging our senses and looking at five things, touching four things, listening to three things, smelling two things, and tasting one thing.
5-4-3-2-1 Grounding Exercise: Coping with Panic, Anxiety & Emotions
The videos below present an overview of the CBT for Insomnia program developed by Dr. Gregg Jacobs at Harvard Medical School. For more detailed information about his online CBT-I program, please visit www.cbtforinsomnia.com.
How To Sleep Better And Cure Insomnia With CBT
In a previous post about our breath we looked at the difference between abdominal breathing and breathing from your chest, and how abdominal breathing can help alleviate stress and calm your body, mind and emotions.
It’s as simple as bringing your attention to your breathing for a few minutes, or even just a few breaths. This is easier said than done, however, as our minds tend to wander a lot at the best of times, and when we’re in distress, it’s even more difficult to stay focused on our breath.
In the next few posts we’re going to practice some exercises to help keep your mind focused on your breathing, starting with Following Your Breathing By Counting Your Breaths.
When you’re feeling stressed or overwhelmed, one of the most effective ways to calm your body, mind and emotions is to pay attention to your breathing. When you focus your attention on your breath, things start to slow down. Physiologically, your heart rate slows, your blood pressure drops, and any tightness or tension you feel tends to relax. Breathing mindfully also calms your emotions, making them more manageable, and helps slow down a racing mind.
In the next post, we’re going to learn a few techniques to help you follow your breath, but first, it’s important to ensure that you’re breathing in a way that helps calm you, rather than in a way that can increase your level of stress.