Breathlessness can come from any number of causes, from lung disease to anxiety. If your body isn’t getting enough oxygen or expelling enough carbon dioxide, difficulty breathing and lightheadedness won’t be far behind. Here are some ways to help manage feelings of breathlessness.
Diaphragmatic breathing is among the very best breathing exercises to combat breathlessness, and it’s a fancy way of saying “breathing into your tummy.” You may not know that you can control where your breath goes within your body, but you can! To learn how to breathe into your diaphragm, lie down on your back with your knees bent. With one hand on your tummy, breathe in deeply.
Your goal is to make your hand (and stomach) rise and fall as you inhale and exhale. This may take a little time, especially if you’ve never tried it before. Once you’ve got the hang of it, you can do it all the time (whether sitting, standing, or lying down).
This breathing exercise is a little easier to learn than diaphragmatic breathing, but it’s still very beneficial. Relax your neck and shoulders and inhale through your nose. Next, purse your lips and breathe out for four seconds. Try your best to exhale for double the amount of time that you inhale.
Turn On a Fan
Studies have shown that a cool breeze (like from a handheld or floor fan) can help reduce breathlessness. This is useful if your breathlessness is the result of anxiety, as the cool sensation can make it feel as though more air is entering your body as you inhale. While this isn’t a proven phenomenon, it may help you regulate your breathing.
In the most severe cases, breathing exercises and a cool breeze may not be enough. If your breathlessness seems stubborn, speak with your doctor about oxygen therapy. Many patients with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) or other breathing diseases require an oxygen concentrator to nip breathlessness in the bud.
Now that you know a few ways to help manage breathlessness, try out some exercises and get on a path to breathing more easily.