Breathing for stress, anxiety and panic.

Anxiety, panic and a racing mind are classed as psychological problems but there is a strong biochemical link. These feelings can be triggered by chemical changes, as well as cause chemical changes. Breathing is connected to our nervous system and we influence our biochemistry with how we breathe. So if we train the breath, we can start to intentionally influence our nervous system through beneficial biochemistry, created with good breathing practices.

Stress of all kinds causes tension in the body. When we are stressed the body responds by tensing up.  Tension on the outside means tension on the inside so everything contracts including muscles, tissues, blood vessels and our airways. This constriction impedes the way our body functions and over time this tension affects how we breathe on a day-to-day basis. This is because we build neural pathways for breathing so poor breathing can become the habitual default pattern.

We can train the breath to calm the mind and oxygenate the brain so that we can think clearly. When you bring your attention to your breath this helps to quiet the mind and reduce over thinking. This brings us into the present moment which is usually fine. Anxiety and over thinking is usually about the future (worry) or about the past, perhaps regret or depression over something that has happened.  When we quiet the mind we create space between our thoughts so we can question their validity and allow new ideas to surface.

We may not always be able to control sources of stress in our life. We can however work with our breath to interrupt our emotional and mental reaction to the stress.  These reactions will otherwise continue to stimulate our stress response and restrict how our body functions.

Remember there are many sources of stress but they all generate the same type of reaction in the body. It doesn’t matter if it’s from toxins, poor food quality, negative emotions and feelings or illness and injury. The body’s physiological response is the same regardless of the cause.

The human body has a great response mechanism called the fight or flight response. This serves us well for acute short bursts of stress.  You may have heard of the book ‘why zebra’s don’t get ulcers’. If they survive a predator attack they shiver and shake to process the stress and then return to their baseline parasympathetic state (rest and digest). Unfortunately the pace of modern life tends to generate chronic, low grade persistent stress on a daily basis.  Without any kind of stress management our baseline will often reset to a far higher baseline and a constant pervading sense of anxiety.  This means our reaction times get shorter and shorter and our fuse trips faster and more frequently. We weren’t built to withstand this continual, chronic stress but nature always has a solution.

The exercises I teach work on your daily functional breathing pattern.  I teach you to breathe lightly, slowly and deeply.  This increases your tolerance to the build up of carbon dioxide and nitric oxide.  These molecules cause your airways and blood vessels to relax and dilate and make the oxygen you breathe in, accessible to the body.  This means all of your automatic functions such as blood pressure, heart rate, respiratory rate and digestion can function better.

You can rewire your breath and the neural pathways for breathing to:

When you work with the breath to relax the body you stimulate your vagus nerve. This one nerve controls whether you are in fight or flight or rest and digest. Rest and digest is the parasympathetic nervous system which controls all those automatic functions of the body which keep you alive, the autonomic nervous system (ANS). When you rewire your breathing you can begin to work with your ANS rather than hampering it with poor breathing patterns. Enhance and stimulate your health, rather than inadvertently damaging it.

For more information please do drop me an email or give me a call. I offer private breath training but I also have a new course coming soon. Please get in touch as soon as possible if you are interested.

Fed up with snoring?

Nighttime snoring can range from being a mild embarrassment and nuisance to a more serious chronic problem. It can sometimes be a potential indicator of more serious health issues such as obstructive sleep apnea (OSA). There are essentially two reasons snoring can happen, either breathing is too forceful or the upper airway is too narrow.

During sleep the tissues of the throat relax which can partially block the airway. This tissue vibrates as air flows past it and it is this vibration and turbulence in the airway which leads to snoring. The more this airway narrows the more forceful the airflow becomes increasing vibration and therefore the snoring volume. There are two types of snoring mouth snoring and nasal snoring.


Mouth snoring

If you wake with a dry mouth then you are probably mouth breathing during the night and this won’t refresh you properly. If you mouth breath during the day you will build neural pathways regarding this behaviour pattern which will continue during sleep. This can often be a habitual pattern rather than an anatomical requirement especially where children are concerned. To re-establish full-time nasal breathing Patrick McKeown founder of The Oxygen Advantage breathing programme and author of the book by the same name recommends using lip tape. You can use any tape suitable for skin contact such as Mircropore but if the idea of covering your mouth with tape is stressful you can use MYOTAPE. This tape uses elastic tension to bring the lips together without covering the lips completely. You can purchase this tape here It may seem rather alien but a new 2020 study revealed that even full-time mouth breathers could often lip-tape providing there wasn’t any nasal obstruction. They also concluded that in children full-time nasal breathing is critical for craniofacial and airway development.

Nasal snoring

If you are nasal breathing during sleep but still snoring then this can be due to a number of different reasons summarised below.

Conventional treatments such as nasal dilators are usually designed to increase space in the upper airway. What these don’t do is address any fast or hard breathing patterns which may also be contributing to the problem.   Imagine sucking air through a straw. If you do this slowly and gently the air will pass through but if you breathe in fast the sides of the straw will stick together cutting off the air supply. Depending on which factors are relevant the Oxygen Advantage Breathing © programme may be able to improve or help to alleviate symptoms.

The way we breathe during the day affects the way we breathe at night which affects how we sleep and whether or not we snore. The lower and upper airways are mechanically connected. Diaphragmatic breathing tones and opens the throat area minimising the risk of collapse to cause snoring. The exercises I teach look to reset the day to day breathing pattern. When we breathe light and well during the day we can also breathe light during the night.

The exercises

The breathing exercises correct dysfunctional breathing patterns and help to:


There is a lot of crossover between snoring and insomnia. Insomnia affects between 25 and 30% of the general population and for about 10% this is a chronic complaint requiring medical help. Insomnia is linked to many health complaints such as hyper arousal of the autonomic nervous system (ANS), stress, irritability, daytime fatigue, anxiety, emotional dysregulation, difficulty concentrating, depression and even high blood pressure.

Obstructive sleep apnea (OSA)

If OSA is present or if chronic snoring progresses to OSA this can lead to more serious health consequences. If you suspect OSA you should consult your GP who will probably recommend a sleep study to identify if OSA is present and if so which type.

For help with any of these issues or if you have any questions regarding the Oxygen Advantage breathing programme please get in touch today. I may be teaching or consulting but will return your call as soon as possible. I always do my best to fit clients in if they are ready to invest in their health.

For help with any of these issues or if you have any questions regarding the Oxygen Advantage breathing programme please get in touch today. I may be teaching or consulting but will return your call as soon as possible. I always do my best to fit clients in if they are ready to invest in their health.


McKeown, P. (2015) The Oxygen Advantage; Harper Collins, New York.

McKeown, P. (2021) The Breathing Cure; Amazon, GB.

Zaghi, et al. (2020) Assessment of nasal breathing using lip taping, a simple and effective screening tool; International Journal of Otorhinolaryngology; 6(1), 10.