Buteyko Shallow Breathing for Anxiety and Panic

The Buteyko method was developed by a Russian of the same name primarily for lung disorders. But retraining your manner of breathing can have a major effect on your anxiety and panic attack levels. Many people with Panic Disorder (with or without agoraphobia) or
Generalized Anxiety Disorder have very bad breathing habits, which can be changed surprisingly quickly. You should always consult your doctor and any therapists you are seeing before starting a new treatment. What follows is for information only.

The Buteyko method of breathing is not particularly hard, although the courses (which tend to be designed for Asthma sufferers rather than Anxiety or Panic Attack sufferers) are expensive and long winded. There are several books available on the subject, several of which are worth reading. They are:

The Breathology Programme Incorporating Buteyko Techniques

Close Your Mouth: Buteyko Clinic Handbook for Perfect Health

Breathing Free: The 5-day Breathing Programme That Can Change Your Life, By Teresa Hale

The basics of the Buteyko method I will tell you here. The idea is that after following the technique fort a few weeks you will notice a positive change in your stress level, energy level and the number of panic attacks or anxiety episodes you have.

The first step involves what is called the “Control Pause”. Take a couple of normal breaths, then, at the end of an outbreath (i.e. when your lungs are empty) pinch your nose and close your mouth, and time how many seconds you can wait before you feel you need to take another breath. Do NOT push yourself. You should breath again when you first feel you WANT to, not when you feel you HAVE TO or when you feel your legs going weak!

Step two. After you have done this take shallow breaths for five minutes. Breath only through your nose and try and keep your breaths so shallow you can not hear them. Don’t do anything that makes you feel uncomfortable. If it doesn’t feel good then stop. If you feel faint, stop.

Step three. After five minutes go back to step one and take the “Control Pause” test again.

Then repeat steps one-three four times. Try to do this routine (four repetitions) three times a day for a week or so.

The aim is to be able to do a “Control Pause” which lasts sixty seconds. Remember, a Control Pause should not be uncomfortable. The aim is to get to sixty seconds without it feeling uncomfortable.

Hopefully this will have a very positive effect on your sleep, anxiety, panic and energy levels.

One Reply to “Buteyko Shallow Breathing for Anxiety and Panic”

  1. I would like to let visitors to your blog know of my book – Anxiety Free by Patrick McKeown. It encompasses the Buteyko Method and mindfulness for the treatment of anxiety, panic attacks, brain fog and poor concentration. The book comes with a twenty minute Buteyjo CD of breathing exercises. Thanks Patrick

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