The way we breathe is strongly linked to the way we feel.
Normal breathing. When we breathe we take in oxygen (O2) that is used by the body. This process creates carbon dioxide (CO2), a waste product that we breathe out. When our breathing is relaxed the levels of oxygen and carbon dioxide are balanced - this allows our body to function efficiently.
Exercise breathing. Here our body uses more oxygen to fuel our muscles, producing more carbon dioxide. Since our breathing rate increases during exercise, we breathe in extra oxygen and breathe out the extra carbon dioxide. This means that oxygen and carbon dioxide levels are balanced.
Anxious breathing. When our breathing rate increases due to anxiety: we take in more oxygen and breathe out more carbon dioxide. Because we are not exercising our body is not using up the extra oxygen, and so it is not producing any extra carbon dioxide. Because carbon dioxide is being expelled faster than it is being produced the levels of carbon dioxide in the blood go down (leading to a temporary change in the pH of the blood called respiratory alkalosis). This can lead us to feeling unpleasantly light-headed, tingly in our fingers and toes, clammy, and sweaty.
When breathing returns to its usual rate the levels of carbon dioxide return to normal, and the symptoms resolve. You can deliberately relax your breathing to feel better.
Click the Bubble and breath in sync with the movement of the bubble. Make sure you are using the diaphragmatic breathing method to the left when you inhale and exhale. Click here to start.
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