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Catching Your Breath

Sometimes we just get short of breath. There is no rhyme or reason for it. Our stats like O2 and heart rate seem fine, we have taken our meds as we normally do, and yet getting a deep breath seems impossible. You have two options now, you can panic or you can become mindful of your situation.

The problem with panic

If you allow panic to set in, your situation will worsen and you will usually be certain that death is going to follow. This can lead to a full-body panic mode. I think of all of the horrible ways that I could die and suffocating from lack of oxygen is the scariest.

Once this panic begins it will take a great deal of effort to get your breathing under control. I know because I have had to call an ambulance several times in the past when this happened. Each time I regretted calling but I can’t deny they saved my life.

Letting panic rule you is living in the past and reliving the most horrible things that happened to you before. It is a torturous nightmare that we relive over and over again. Each time we visit the past our experience becomes a living nightmare.

The cause of your increased shortness of breath can have something to do with the barometric pressure and high humidity. This is a good reason to have your A/C running all year round. The one thing that you’re A/C will do for you is to remove the humidity from the air, allowing you to breathe easier in minutes.

The power of the mind

It can be from many things but how you react to your situation will tell how well you will recover. I started using mindfulness shortly after my diagnosis. It was introduced to me by my daughter who is also a social worker. I thought it was the best-kept secret ever. That is because I had never had any idea of the power of the mind.

When I began to panic I allowed my mind to go back to the worst things that had ever happened to me and I talked myself into imagining that those horrible things would happen again. This, of course, caused a fight or flight mode, neither of which I was actually able to do. So being trapped made everything worse than it needed to be.

Help from my daughter

My daughter placed her hand on my shoulder and talked so calmly to me, urging me to close my eyes and breathe deeply through my nose. Hold that breath and imagine it filling your lungs, count to 3 and exhale through pursed lips. Concentrate only on your breathing and do not let your mind wander. Your job now is to breathe in clean fresh air and exhale to stale used air. Push all thoughts out of your mind, except the need to breathe. You can feel your heart slowing and the pounding is calm. As your heart rate returns to normal, so does your breathing. Heart rate first then your oxygen will return to normal. Try this next time you begin to panic and think that you cannot catch a breath.

This article represents the opinions, thoughts, and experiences of the author; none of this content has been paid for by any advertiser. The COPD.net team does not recommend or endorse any products or treatments discussed herein. Learn more about how we maintain editorial integrity here.

Comments

  • lorrie1999
    3 months ago

    A lot of Breathin issues we have are brought on by Weather changes all from Humidity ta the Pressure changes . Also stayin hydrated us very important.

  • Barbara Moore moderator author
    3 months ago

    I have issues that are affected by the weather. I track the weather in my journal and then I can predict what my day will look like. Once I write it down it often doesn’t end up as bad as my mind made it out to be. Anxiety plays a part too. Thank you for popping in today Barbara Moore (site moderator)

  • Janet Plank moderator
    3 months ago

    Barbara, this is a very good article and one that I’m sure will be appreciated by many, something that they can relate to.
    Janet (site moderator)

  • Barbara Moore moderator author
    3 months ago

    Thank you Janet. I means a lot coming from you Barbara Moore (site moderator)

  • kbair55
    4 months ago

    Great article! I have found mindful breathing has a great calming affect and stops your racing heart and panic. Inhale positive thoughts, exhale each negative one. It works! And if you have signs of a flare up, especially fever ot change in color or amount of mucus, call your doc or go to an urgent care asap! Don’t wait for it to get better. It won’t. You need antibiotics, etc. ie; Professional care!

  • Barbara Moore moderator author
    3 months ago

    Thank you for the comments and the excellent advice. It sounds like you have it all covered Barbara Moore (site moderator author)

  • Leon Lebowitz, BA, RRT moderator
    4 months ago

    Hi Kbair55 and thanks for joining in the conversation here. We appreciate you chiming in with your viewpoint and suggestions. Wishing you well, Leon (site moderator)

  • plum
    4 months ago

    I had a wave of panic attacks tonight. I usually head for the back door to get some cold air, it’s winter here in the uk. But I stopped and did what you wrote, I could feel my heart rate slow then my breath came back. I am trying to use mindfulness and seeing a counselor, which helps. Great article Barbara.

  • Barbara Moore moderator author
    4 months ago

    Thank you very much for your positive comments. It really does work just the way you said it did for you. Barbara Moore (site moderator author)

  • Lyn Harper, RRT moderator
    4 months ago

    Hi plum – Thank you so much for sharing this with us! It can be so difficult to change how we cope, especially in the middle of a panic attack. It sounds like you’re really making progress toward a more mindful state.
    Take care.
    Lyn (site moderator)

  • Leon Lebowitz, BA, RRT moderator
    4 months ago

    Hi plum, and thanks for joining in regarding the article by Barbara. Glad to hear the experiences and suggestions she shared here, were helpful for you.
    It can take some time to make this transition and gain better control over the anxiety. You do sound like you are making good progress in that direction. Keep up the good work!
    Leon (site moderator)

  • Sewingmama
    4 months ago

    That’s great advice and worth remembering.

  • Barbara Moore moderator author
    4 months ago

    Thank you for commenting. Perhaps you need to re-read a few times to get the full effect. Barbara Moore (site moderator author)

  • Leon Lebowitz, BA, RRT moderator
    4 months ago

    Hi Sewingmama and thanks for joining in the conversation as regards the content of Barbara’s article. I’m sure she will be pleased to read your kind words. All the best, Leon (site moderator)

  • Stretch22
    4 months ago

    Thank you ! So very important for all to keep calm!

  • Barbara Moore moderator author
    4 months ago

    It certainly is and that is where your control comes from. Barbara Moore (site moderator author)

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