I used to have panic attacks and I used to hold my breath. I still do occasionally. Hold my breath I mean. The panic is gone.
We hold our breath when something scary happens because that’s our bodies way of getting us geared up for action. But our bodies are so outdated that we can’t distinguish between a real threat and a perceived threat. This is why breathing through the stressful situation is so important. We want to get out of the state of perceived threat quickly so that we don’t stay in that place with all the stress hormones for longer than we need too. When we stay in that place, without breathing, we are inviting long term turmoil.
I held my breath all the time when I was stressed out which created more stress which resulted in tons of anxiety and panic attacks.
What conscious breathing (coupled with mindful breathing) has done for me is rewire my brain and my breathing habits.
I’m not saying that a few deep breaths once in a while are the answer to anxiety or panic, but if we can start to do the conscious breathing, turning it into a practice (slow, conscious inhale, followed by slow conscious exhale) then when something stressful arises we are already practiced in breathing instead of holding. Conscious breathing kicks us back into the parasympathetic faster than if we did nothing. Even if we’re not perfect at it like me. With practice brings awareness.