Nasal Breathing Can Help You With Anxiety And Panic Attacks

Absolutely! Nasal breathing might not make you completely healthy, but it will improve the function of your nervous system significantly. It will make you calmer and less reactive. 

Normal breathing for human beings is breathing through the nose: the mouth prepares food for our digestion, the nose thoroughly conditions air for our consumption. When a person is silently breathing through the nose, the brain receives the message that everything is okay. We are supposed to breathe through the mouth only in extreme situations. If you need to run fast to save your life, it is appropriate to breathe through the mouth. However, if you breathe through your mouth, for example, when your spouse criticizes you, your brain receives a signal that it is a life-threatening situation and creates the fight-or-flight response, also called the acute stress response. This can trigger an anxiety or panic attack.

For anyone whose nervous system is weak and tends to have anxiety or panic attacks, it is essential to breathe quietly through the nose all the time, twenty-four hours each day. Ideally, this includes inhaling through the nose while talking. Working with a Buteyko Practitioner will help to establish nasal breathing; however, anyone can improve his or her situation even without Buteyko training by practicing mindfulness and eliminating occurrences of mouth breathing. Pay attention to your breathing and correct it as needed by switching to gentle and quiet nasal breathing.

At the moment when you feel relaxed, and everything seems to be peaceful, notice your breathing patterns and remember them. Make a reference point out of them. Try to maintain these breathing patterns all the time (except physical exercises) and especially when you are in a stressful situation.

There is another reason why nasal breathing makes us less reactive and calmer. I learned from Dr. Novozhilov, the Russian patent holder of the Buteyko method and Dr. Buteyko’s successor, that the excitability of nerve cells depends on the level of CO2 in the lungs. When the CO2 concentration is low and insufficient, the nerve cells get excited easily, and as a result, a person becomes reactive to various events as well as his or her thoughts. For instance, a woman thinks, “I might lose my job,” and the thought alone can trigger a panic attack. Because of her anxiety, she is not able to do her work well, and she gets fired. When a CO2 level becomes higher, the nerve cells become less agitated, and people experience less stress and more peace in their lives. The same woman thinks, “I might lose my job,” and calmly decides to check on other companies, which might hire her. While keeping her current position, she efficiently creates new opportunities for her career.

The level of CO2 depends on how we breathe. If we consume too much air, it becomes deficient. When we breathe quietly through the nose and practice peaceful breathing, CO2 rises. Fast, shallow chest breathing typical for anxiety and panic creates over-breathing and lowers the CO2 level. For anyone who suffers from anxiety, it is essential to learn how to change their automatic breathing patterns. This is not an easy task. The most effective way to do it is by taking Breathing Normalization Full Training.