Effective Breathing Techniques to Help Stop Panic Attacks

A panic attack is a sudden episode of intense fear or discomfort accompanied by other symptoms. Panic attacks have significant symptoms, such as chest pain, sweating, difficulty breathing, and an increased heart rate, but are usually harmless. Breathing exercises slow your heart rate and breathing to help calm you down from panic attacks.

This article describes breathing techniques that can be used during a panic attack and how to perform them.

breathing exercises for panic attacks

There are various breathing techniques that can be used to slow and calm your breathing during a panic attack.

4-7-8 Breathing

breathing exercises for panic attacks
(Image: Indian Yogi/Yogi Madhav/Unsplashz)

Dr. Andrew Weil developed the 4-7-8 breathing technique to relieve anxiety and help with stress-related health issues. Perform this exercise while sitting in a comfortable position.

  1. Touch the tip of your tongue to the palate just behind your upper teeth. Keep your tongue in this position throughout the exercise.
  2. Exhale through your mouth to empty all the air out of your lungs. Make a “whooshing” sound while exhaling.
  3. Close your mouth and count four breaths through your nose.
  4. Hold your breath and count to seven.
  5. Exhale through your mouth while making a “whoosh” sound while counting to eight.
  6. Repeat this cycle 3-4 times. Take your time and do up to 8 breaths. This is the maximum recommended by the creators of this breathing technique.

lion’s breath

Lion’s breath is a form of yoga breathing. pranayamaPerform this exercise while sitting comfortably in a chair or on the floor.

  1. Take a deep breath in through your nose, filling your lungs with air and expanding your belly.
  2. When you can’t breathe in any more air, open your mouth wide and point your tongue toward your chin.
  3. Exhale vigorously through your mouth while making an “ah” sound.
  4. Repeat for a few breaths.
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alternating nostril breathing

Alternating nostril breathing is an effective way to slow breathing during a panic attack. It can also temporarily lower blood pressure.

  1. Sit in a comfortable position.
  2. Place your right thumb on your right nostril and your right ring and little fingers on your left nostril.
  3. Close your right nostril with your thumb and exhale through your left nostril.
  4. Breathe in through your left nostril.
  5. Release your right nostril and close your left nostril with your right ring finger and little finger.
  6. Exhale through the right nostril.
  7. Breathe in through the right nostril.
  8. Close your right nostril and exhale through your left nostril.
  9. Continue this pattern for several breaths.

Early on, panic attack breathing techniques can cause lightheadedness. If this happens, breathe normally for a few minutes between cycles of breathing exercises. Gradually decrease the number of regular breaths until you can perform the breathing exercises as recommended.

Other Ways to Treat Panic Attacks

breathing techniques panic attacks
If you start having a panic attack, relax your body and take a break from whatever you are doing. (Image: Elijah Hiett/Unsplash)

In addition to breathing calming exercises, there are other strategies you can use to reduce symptoms during a panic attack.

relax the muscles

Muscle tension is common during a panic attack. Progressive His Muscle Relaxation is a technique that can be used to reduce symptoms of stress and anxiety. This technique involves tensing and relaxing muscles throughout the body in a specific sequence, from top to bottom or bottom to top.

recognize what is happening

If you start having a panic attack, take a break from whatever you’re doing. Remind yourself that your body and brain are overreacting to the realities of your situation.

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Recognize irrational thoughts that may be contributing to your panic attacks. For example, if your heart rate soars, you might think you’re going to die. However, focusing on your breathing and practicing calming techniques during these moments can slow your heart rate.

try grounding

Grounding techniques can help you bring your focus back to the present during times of anxiety, such as panic attacks.

54321 Grounding exercises are one way to engage all five senses. Look around your environment and find:

  • 5 things you can see
  • 4 things you can feel
  • 3 things you hear
  • two things that smell
  • A dish to taste

Panic attack prevention

Panic attacks cannot always be prevented. Most occur without a clear trigger, and may occur while you are relaxing or after you go to bed.

However, for some people, tracking symptoms can help identify potential triggers. Keep a diary and write down the circumstances, circumstances, and feelings of the seizure.

Symptoms of panic attacks and heart attacks can be similar. Both conditions can cause difficulty breathing, sweating, dizziness, nausea, chest pain, tingling in the arms, and a feeling of “imminent doom.”

If you have chest discomfort, see your doctor to rule out a potentially life-threatening condition. Once a panic attack or anxiety disorder has been diagnosed, it will be possible to more accurately identify the cause of the symptoms if they recur.


Panic attacks are episodes of sudden, often unexpected and intense fear accompanied by many unpleasant physical and emotional symptoms. Breathing techniques can help calm the mind and reduce these symptoms during a panic attack.

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Other techniques, such as progressive muscle relaxation and grounding techniques, can also be used during a panic attack. Please rule out serious medical causes of


Panic attacks are not life-threatening, but they can greatly interfere with your daily life. If breathing exercises and other self-help techniques to manage symptoms do not improve, talk to your healthcare provider about other treatments, such as medication and psychotherapy.

This story was first published on www.verywellhealth.com

(Main image: Tim Goedhart/ Unsplash; Main image: Elijah Hiett/ Unsplash)

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