Can Social Anxiety Cause Shortness Of Breath? Practice Diaphragmatic Breathing Exercise Techniques
When we are stressed, we tend to breath in from our upper lungs instead of our lower lungs causing us to shallow breath and experience irregular breathing patterns. In fact it's not uncommon to be so tense, people with anxiety have actually said they do sometimes forget to breathe.
How Does Breathing Affect Social Anxiety and Muscle Tension?
We would normally breathe in oxygen and breathe out carbon dioxide - keeping a balance of the two in our body. When we are stressed, anxious and shallow breathing, carbon dioxide levels start to decrease and oxygen around our bloodstream becomes less. Making the heart beat faster.
The heart works harder trying to produce the same amount of oxygen around the body as it would in normal breathing. This has an effect on our whole body. The way we think and the way we behave. Stress makes our muscles tense making it more difficult to relax in everyday situations. A vicious cycle for people with social anxiety.
What Is Hyperventilating and What Does It Feel Like?
Hyperventilating occurs when we take in more air than our body needs caused by anxiety and rapid shallow breathing from our upper lungs. Symptoms feel very real and intense once panic sets in. It really does feel like you can’t get any air into your lungs, you gasp for breathe, you become dizzy and faint, think your going to pass out, pins and needles in your hands and feet, chest pain, palpitations, nausea.
It’s a very frightening experience but really important to acknowledge that these symptoms are most likely the feelings of your anxiety, and that you can breathe. It’s not dangerous, it’s your body’s response to your fear. It’s also really important to speak with your GP about your symptoms to rule out any other medical conditions.
How Do I Stop Over Breathing?
The first thing is to acknowledge it is your anxiety that’s causing these symptoms and It's not dangerous. Easier said than done but try taking your mind off your anxious thoughts. Distract yourself.
Concentrate on your breathing. Once your breathing slows down you will become more calm. Your symptoms will slowly start to return to a normal rate. Your heart rate slows, blood pressure becomes less high, muscle tension becomes more relaxed and you will start to feel more at ease and less anxious.
Practice Breathing Exercise's
Controlled breathing helps control anxiety. Place one hand on your chest and the other on your stomach. Take a slow normal breathe. Breathe in through your nose and out through your mouth. As you breathe in you should see your stomach rise and as you breathe back out your stomach should pull in. Your chest should not move.
How Can I Overcome My Social Anxiety – Panic and Shallow Breathing?
Be mindful of your breathing patterns. If you sense anxiety creeping in learn to nip it in the bud straight away with your controlled breathing techniques. The more relaxed your breathing is the more relaxed you will be. Moving forward try and think about what situations or environments make your social anxiety worse. If you start to become more aware of these you will be in a better place to control your anxiety.
Anxiety Feeds Off Your'e Fears
If you find yourself becoming panicky and anxious switch your anxious thoughts and take your attention to the surroundings you are in at that time - look around, take a walk, do something different. Think about the things you see at that moment or the things you need to do that day. Music is a really good distraction.
Meet friends that are similar to you. It will be easier to have a conversation and also less stressful being in the same company of people that are going through similar experiences. It’s hard work and takes patience and practice but it can be done. Your anxiety will soon pass once your breathing techniques are mastered and your mind is distracted.
Everybody with social phobia has their own safety behaviours. Think about how you could do things differently avoiding these. For example you may become extremely nervous and panicky when passing someone you know in the street. You instantly look away or cross the road. Concentrate on your breathing and instead of looking away say “ Hello “ and carry on walking. Each time you see this person you will begin to gain more confidence in that situation. Gradually making more small talk in time.
Another example may be a fear of blushing when speaking to someone so you avoid eye contact all together. You may make distractions, putting your hair in front of your face, tying your shoe lace, looking elsewhere. This brings attention to yourself and may be noticeable with the person you are talking to and even more noticeable and stressful for you as it becomes more obvious.
Try having a conversation without these safety behaviours. What’s the worst thing that could happen? Tomorrows another day for your next challenge, don’t be too hard on yourself, you’ll get there. Try not to avoid a situation completely you will only prolong your worries and fears. Again concentrate on your breathing. Challenge your social anxiety slowly. Small steps. Put yourself in a situation. It always seems impossible until it’s done.