Diaphragmatic breathing

Discussion created by luvsroses_barb on Aug 21, 2008
This is a post that I am copying from another board that I belong to. I thought it might help some of the people here. Especially since I recall seeing a post where some of you seem to be having problems with trembling or sweating.

Diaphragmatic breathing
It is common for people to stop breathing properly when they quit smoking. They begin to breathe shallowly from the top of their lungs. Shallow breathing causes stale air to remain in the bottom of the lungs. Also it causes an imbalance between the carbon dioxide and oxygen in our system. This condition is hyperventilation and can result in symptoms similar to an anxiety or panic attack.

Diaphragmatic breathing is also very beneficial if you suffer from Panic Attacks or General Anxiety. Learning how to breathe from your diaphragm is very beneficial in overcoming the symptoms that develop from the shallow chest breathing which occurs during a panic attack and when you are experiencing anxiety.

If you breathe shallowly or actually are hyperventilating you may experience several, if not all of these symptoms:
° lightheadedness
° dizziness
° feelings of unreality
°shortness of breath
° trembling
° tingling in your hands, feet and lips

What's happening to you is that by "overbreathing" you are exhaling too much carbon dioxide in relation to the amount of oxygen in your body. Note that these symptoms are some of the very same ones that you experience during a panic attack. So, if you do suffer from panic attacks then these symptoms which mimic a panic attack can actually lead to one. People who are generally anxious but don't suffer from panic attacks will feel these same symptoms but to a lesser extent.

The traditional cure for hyperventilating is to breath into a paper bag. This actually does work by breathing back in the carbon dioxide that you exhale into the bag and restoring the carbon dioxide/oxygen balance in your system. BUT, because it's not always appropriate to put a bag on your face in public, learning the diaphragmatic breathing technique is a good alternative.

Begin by breathing in slowly, through your nose while mentally counting to five. When you are inhaling, picture the air going down into your stomach, not your lungs. Put your hand on your stomach and you should feel it expanding. Now, slowly exhale through your mouth for a count of five. Picture the air emptying out of your stomach until it's totally expelled. Repeat this ten times during practice and as long as needed when you are experiencing the above symptoms. If you are doing it properly, your shoulders and chest will have very little, if no movement whatsoever.

It's important to practice this everyday so that when you are hyperventilating, it'll be second nature to you. It's hard to think clearly when you are having these symptoms so you have to be prepared. Also, if practiced long enough, some people will actually breathe diaphragmatically all of the time and won't experience hyperventilation anymore.

In conclusion, whenever you feel any of the symptoms listed above, and or the first twinges of adrenalin from an oncoming panic attack, immediately start your diaphragmatic breathing. This technique is one of the best you can learn in overcoming shallow breathing and panic attacks. It's so simple to do and very easy to learn.

(The University of Arizona)
Arizona Health Sciences Center

Deep breathing is a key relaxation skill for new non-smokers. When you smoked, if you inhaled deeply, you probably were breathing in a way which actually promoted relaxation. People who stop smoking often forget to continue such deep breathing and therefore experience increased tension. This exercise will show you how to breathe without cigarettes in a way which slows down the pace of your whole body and therefore promotes general relaxation.

Correct deep breathing should be done with your belly muscles. The idea is to let your stomach go out as far as possible as you inhale. In this way you will fill your lungs more completely. Put a hand on your abdomen and, as you inhale deeply, feel your stomach expand as though it were being filled like a balloon. Now let the air out and feel your stomach return to its normal position. As you do the exercise, pause comfortably at the end of each exhalation until you feel ready to take the next deep breath. You can achieve even greater relaxation if you close your eyes during deep breathing and let your mind focus on a restful scene or a word like calm or anything else which gives you a peaceful feeling.

Keeping your eyes closed, breathe in deeply, let your stomach expand until your lungs are filled. Now pause for a moment and then exhale until you have emptied your lungs. Pause for a moment. Take another deep breath in, filling your lungs from the bottom. Hold a moment...and now let the air flow out, focusing your mind on restful thoughts. Keeping the pace regular, again breathe in deeply...hold a moment...and now let the air out, feeling more and more relaxed. Take another breath in ... hold it for a moment ... now gently breathe out, letting the tension escape from your body. Once more breathe in...pause a exhale, feeling deep relaxation. This ends the exercise.

I'd rather breathe than smoke
Free and Healing for 3 months, 18 days, 15 hours, 38 minutes and 32 seconds, while extending my life 16 Days and 21 Hours, by avoiding the use of 2213 death sticks that would have cost me $477.97. My quit date: 5/3/2008 at 3:00:00 AM.