Hyperventilation and Anxiety: Understanding the Connection
Hyperventilation, or over-breathing, can actually have a significant impact on our anxiety. Truth be told, in my anxiety therapy sessions I see alot of clients who arent aware that they are hyperventilating during the waking hours of their average day. They often come to me for counselling (glasgow based) only to learn that something so simple can have a significant impact on our neurological and cardiovascular systems, leading to various daily symptoms such as faintness, head heavines
s, chest pains, and dizziness. These symptoms are often caused by shallow breathing, which results in the release of excess carbon dioxide (CO2) compared to what our bodies can produce.
Additionally, shallow breathing can lead to the constriction of certain blood vessels, reducing the oxygen supply to the brain and other parts of the body. Recognizing the signs of hyperventilation and shallow breathing is crucial in addressing these symptoms effectively.
One telltale sign of hyperventilation is breathing more than 14 breaths per minute. By monitoring someone's breath count, it becomes evident that their breathing pattern may be linked to the release of the stress response or fight-or-flight response within their body. To alleviate these symptoms, it is recommended to aim for a breathing rate between 7 and 10 breaths per minute, promoting activation of the parasympathetic system, which is responsible for relaxation.
Engaging in physical activity can also aid in achieving the desired breathing rate. By incorporating regular exercise into our routines, we can experience deeper and slower breaths throughout the day, contributing to a more relaxed state.
Another indicator of shallow breathing is chest breathing, where the movement is primarily focused on the chest rather than the stomach area. Observing the way someone breathes from the side can help determine if chest breathing or hyperventilation is present. Lastly, air hunger, characterized by a constant feeling of not getting enough air, is another common sign of hyperventilation and shallow breathing.
To address these issues, it is essential to start with the basics. Begin by consciously breathing through your nose, paying attention to whether you are breathing through your mouth or nose. Don't worry too much about specific breathing techniques initially; simply focusing on nasal breathing can already yield positive results. Additionally, practicing "low and slow" breathing, utilizing the stomach area and diaphragm rather than the chest, can help promote a more relaxed breathing pattern.
It's worth noting that factors such as humidity, heat, tight clothing, and certain scents like perfumes or colognes can contribute to shallow breathing and hyperventilation. Being aware of these external influences and implementing the techniques mentioned above can greatly improve breathing habits throughout the day.
By becoming more conscious and mindful of our breathing, we can experience increased clarity and a stronger rational mindset, even in challenging situations. Remember, you are more than anxiety. Comment below and share where you are on your anxiety recovery journey.
If you are considering help for your anxiety, or have had anxiety counselling before and it hasnt fully helped, click this link to book a free consultation call with me.