How to deal with anxiety attacks and hyperventilation

I have always been a stressed person.

I have suffered with shallow breathing my whole life-Unable to sustain my breath during long exercise and unable to efficiently breathe through my nose. however, this has rarely been much of a problem until a week ago. After my 30-day shred workout programme was coming to an end, I found my self struggling to breathe, gasping for breath and this went on for a lot longer then normal.

What asthma ‘shallow lung’ feels like

My lungs felt like a tight balloon and the more breaths I took the less oxygen it felt was going down. It was slowly restricting my lungs from expanding.

I have to breathe through my mouth and take breathes big enough to feel my lungs fill up to (what feels like – bursting). It has progressively worsened over recently weeks and I started being unable to talk to my family, I had headaches, I was unable to sleep, my appetite was much smaller, I felt lost and was suffering with;

  • Lightheadedness
  • Chest Pain
  • Leg/Extremity Weakness
  • A palpitating hear beat

What is it?

You won’t believe it but.. It’s actually caused by having ‘too much’ oxygen. It’s called ‘hyperventilation’.

When you aren’t getting a full breath, it can feel like you’re not getting enough oxygen, so, naturally, you try to take deeper breaths. It doesn’t help because, like I said the feeling is actually trigged by too much oxygen. When breathing in to overcome this ‘lack of oxygen’ feeling, you can make your body feel like it needs more air, causing you to try to breathe in deeper. A vicious circle, however, because the problem is caused by an over-abundance of oxygen and not enough CO2 you can fix this easily!

Remember those scenes where a stressed person is on the floor with a brown paper bag? – That’s to get more co2 into the lungs.

Brown Bag (with staple)

I have been fit now for 2 years by regularly exercising and regulating my diet with fresh fruit and veg.  Honestly? I love it! So when this anxiety kicked in I thought I was physically unable to exercise, my whole world was changed and my routine was ruined. It was triggered so easily.

  1. Stressful Conversation
  2. Meeting New People
  3. Going to new places
  4. Doing something, not in routine
  5. Night-time (perhaps worrying about not completing daily tasks)
  6. Light exercise/ inc weights
  7. Greasy Foods

How to cope with your anxiety attacks

You need to go against your instincts. You actually need to take smaller and slower breaths, it can be hard to do when you’re in a panic-attack because of the lightheadedness. So, if you struggle to do so, try the following:

  • Breathe in really slowly through your nose. This should take about 5 seconds.
  • Hold for a few seconds – which will give you time to absorb the oxygen and CO2
  • Breathe out really slowly through pursed lips as though you’re whistling. This should take anywhere from 6 to 8 seconds.

It is getting easier now I know how to control it. I can sit down and breath as normally as possible, trying to ignore what is happening to my body.


photo credit: FootMassagez Beautiful Girl Breathing Calmly – Credits to via photopin (license)

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