Manually controlling your breathing means you believe you consciously inhale and exhale air. This can be a stressful and exhausting experience, particularly if you have anxiety.
I personally experienced this in my twenties when anxiety made me breathe faster, leading me to focus on controlling my breathing. At times, I even panicked, thinking if I didn’t consciously control my breathing, it would stop and I would die. However, I later learned that breathing is an automatic process regulated by receptors in the brain, and that I couldn’t stop it even if I tried.
More on that later, lets first look at breathing in general,
Inhalation is when you breathe in air. Your diaphragm muscle, which is under your lungs, moves down and makes more room for your lungs to fill with air. The air comes in through your nose or mouth, gets warm and wet, and then goes down your windpipe to your bronchial tubes and into your lungs. Finally, the oxygen from the air goes into your bloodstream through tiny air sacs called alveoli.
Exhalation: When you exhale, your diaphragm relaxes and travels up into the chest cavity. As the space in your chest cavity shrinks, carbon dioxide-rich air is driven out of your lungs and windpipe, and then out your nose or mouth.
It’s exhausting and stressful to go through manual breathing.
I remember a time when I was in my twenties and going through a particularly anxious period in my life. I began to feel like I needed to control my breathing, as my rapid breathing was causing me distress. At first, I thought I had to consciously inhale and exhale air to keep my breathing under control. However, this only intensified my anxiety and made me feel like I was suffocating.
The more I focused on my breathing, the more panicked I became. I was afraid that if I didn’t keep consciously pushing air in and out, my breathing would suddenly stop and I would die. It was a frightening experience that consumed me for several weeks.
But then, I discovered a simple technique that helped me understand the automatic nature of breathing. I exhaled all the air in my lungs and held my breath for about three seconds. To my surprise, my body took over and breathed for me. I realized that my breathing was automatic, and that I wasn’t in control of it. This was a turning point for me, and I started to feel less anxious about my breathing.
Today, I still practice this technique when I feel anxious, and it helps me to feel more relaxed and in control. I also find that distraction techniques, such as going for a walk or engaging in creative activities, help me to forget about my breathing and reduce my anxiety. I’m grateful for the peace of mind that I have found through this experience, and I hope that it can help others who are struggling with manually breathing.
Maybe you had a similar experience? I would love to hear about it in the comments section below
Breathing is regulated by receptors in your brain and you will not be able to suppress the urge to breathe for very long. Remember when your asleep then you’re still breathing with no conscious input from yourself. Read more about how e automatic breathe here.
Still, struggling with manual breathing?
How do you fix manually breathing?
What helped me understand the automatic nature of breathing was a simple technique. It demonstrated that I was not in control of my breathing, but rather it was an automatic process, much like my heart beats without conscious effort. This allowed me to let go of my anxiety and trust that my body would take care of my breathing without my conscious mind needing to control it.
- Breath out all of the oxygen in your lungs until nothing is left (don’t worry you won’t come to any harm)
- Now don’t breath back in again and keep your mouth closed for about 3 seconds.
- By this time your body will take over and prove to you there’s no way you’re going to suddenly stop breathing.
Here are 3 Distraction techniques to reduce anxiety and manually breathing
Breathing manually is not always easy to get your head around especially when you’re freaking out and in a panic. Sometimes getting involved in activities might distract you long enough to stop thinking about it.
- Going for a walk and practising mindful walking
- Watch a Movie or TV show you like
- Get creative and paint, draw or write a story
Facing your fear and practising acceptance
Another strategy is facing conscious breathing head-on because sometimes facing your fears is the best way to solve them. Accepting you are manual breathing and telling yourself it is okay to control your breathing might take the fear and anxiety away and then you will forget your doing it in the first place.
Read this post about the origins of the deep breathing techniques.