Are you breathing properly?

First of all take a moment to tune in to your breathing. Notice where you are breathing from and how easy this feels.

As you inhale deeply you should fill up your stomach first and then up towards your chest, like filling up a glass of water. If you are finding it uncomfortable to control or slow down your breathing you might be hyperventilating.

Breathing too quickly can cause symptoms such as dizziness, anxiety, sickness, clammy hands, sighing and chest pain.

Take the Test

The Nijmegen Questionnaire is used by medical professionals to assess whether a patient is breathing properly. Other tests might be carried out in conjunction with this before a diagnosis is made.

A score of 23 or more out of 64 suggests breathing is dysfunctional.

What can I do?

It is important to discuss any new symptoms with you GP first, to rule out anything else.

  • Make time to relax and focus on your breathing.
  • Reassure yourself that the symptoms are not life-threatening and will pass.
  • Breathing retraining exercises to regulate breathing pattern and encourage slower abdominal breathing in through the nose. These should be practiced daily and can be used during a panic attack to encourage relaxation.
  • Osteopathic treatment to improve lower-rib breathing mechanics and avoid overusing the accessory muscles of respiration in the neck and chest.
  • Address possible underlying causes of stress/anxiety, for example Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) to better understand and cope with symptoms.
  • Mindfulness meditation and progressive muscle relaxation techniques. There are a number of guided meditations available on youtube, spotify etc. or you can lead your own. Start by lying on your back or sitting comfortably in a chair; Close your eyes and relax the muscles in your toes, feet and ankles. Work your way up the body to the top of the head, relaxing the muscles of the face, head and jaw. This can be done at any time or place.