In, hold, out.
Breathing is one of the most vital mechanisms in the human body. You probably know this, as you’re (presumably) human. But proper breathing isn’t just a matter of inflating and deflating your lungs. Breathing is what delivers oxygenated blood to the rest of your body, and most importantly, your brain. Have you ever noticed that when you feel panicked, your breathing gets less steady, which causes you to panic more? There’s a reason for that: when your breathing isn’t as deep as it should be, your brain’s not getting a full serving of oxygenated blood. This is one of the causes of panic spirals; you get less rational because your brain is being deprived of oxygen. A deep, cleansing breath can alleviate panic, as well as lessen other physical ailments because it quickly delivers that all-important blood to your body.
Here’s how to take a nice, deep breath: first, take a seat somewhere comfortable and monitor your breathing. Keep it normal, then gradually make it slower and deeper. In through your nose, out through your mouth. Breathe in enough air to fully extend your stomach, then slowly, calmly expel it. Practice this a few times to get the feel for the distinction between regular breathing and deep breathing. Ten minutes a day should help you form a habit.
Of course, when you’re in the middle of a panic attack, it can be hard to recall the deep breathing procedure. If you’re prone to panic attacks in public places, it may help to have a friend or family member remind you. When you feel yourself panicking, just stop, close your eyes, shut out the world, and breathe. The world can wait when you need a moment.