Saturday, March 24, 2007

Forgetting to Breathe

At least every other week, I have an anxiety attack spurred by the sudden belief that I’m forgetting to breathe. During these attacks, you can find me on the floor, hysterically gasping for air, while loudly professing my newfound knowledge.

Rey always gets a big kick out these attacks, because according to him, “breathing is natural, and you can’t forget to do it!” He doesn’t know what he’s talking about, and this morning when I set off to prove him wrong by finding online cases of people who’ve died from forgetting to breathe, I stumbled across the International Breath Institute.

Apparently, we were both semi-right. Only babies die from forgetting to breathe, and only babies breathe properly naturally.

But, I didn’t realize how important breathing properly is, especially for the anxiety-ridden nation.

Breathing is the body’s main mechanism for disposing of waste, namely CO2. CO2 makes the nervous system excitable, and anxious people often live in a state with elevated CO2 levels. Breathing properly decreases those levels and in turn decreases the anxiety. But decreased anxiety isn’t the only benefit of breathing properly, it also increases energy, and improves complexion and blood circulation.

Pretty interesting stuff. The International Breath Institute also links to a thirty-year clinical study that claims the most significant factor in peak health and long life is how well you breathe.


dave said...

Seems to me that if you're not dead you're breathing properly. But what do I know...

P.S. What happened to the picture of you on your profile.

Barbora said...

That’s interesting. I can’t say that I’ve ever forgotten to breathe, but I have had incidents where I became a little too focused on my breathing, thus getting stressed out and ultimately having difficulty breathing. I remember this happening as a kid when I was on vacation up in Niagara Falls. We had just settled in to the hotel and I was completely over-stimulated by the excitement of it all. When it came time for bed, the breathing thing kicked in. I was given ½ a beer to settle me down. It worked.

Leila V. said...

Hey Dave:
Sounds like good old fashion male logic to me.

And what are you saying? Look at those breasts! They're nowhere near that big in real life!

We must be related. At age seven, I graduated from NightQuil to Budweiser. It was all down hill from there.

Heather said...

Breathing from your tummy rather than chest can stop a panic attack in its tracks. I find it worthwhile to do some breathing time (like meditation) every day.

Some of the more way out claims for breathing sound a bit optimistic.

Leila V. said...

Hey Heather:
That's exactly what I need to do, set aside some meditation time every day to practice good breathing techniques.

And you're probably right about the claimed benefits, but wouldn't it be nice it was only that easy!

Anonymous said...

Aah, another person like me :P

I can forget to breathe, then gasp and panic... really really badly.

Take for instance, once i was walking up a hill, pulse about 100 i would imagine, forgot to breathe, panicked, and when i got home, my pulse was 180 and i was hyperventilating, at which point we called an ambulance because i was having hysterical fits.

It's only just started happening, and i hope i grow out of it, its a pain in the royal behind when it happens, i sweat up like no tomorrow and feel really really light headed.

Leila V. said...

That's exactly how I feel! But Rey refuses to call the ambulance and says it's impossible! He's really got it coming when I finally drop dead from forgetting to breathe...