Will I ever stop thinking about breathing?

This post has been thanked 1 time. 23 January 2020 - 1:30

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I know that in order to become relaxed with sensorimotor OCD (breathing) you must simply breathe how you would normally and not try to change it or get the "right breath", but I've become so obsessed with breathing that I don't even know what a "normal breath" is and the only time I'm not aware of it is when I'm sleeping. I know I should simply breathe and not worry about how shallow or deep the breath is or if I'm breathing with my chest or belly. But I still think of it incessantly and this has been going on for nearly a year. I also struggle with anxiety so I try and make myself take slow belly breaths but then I feel like that reinforces my breathing obsession because I need to rely on it to relax if that makes sense. Having a constant awareness of my breath gives me a sense of control and distraction from my anxiety, but not in a way that is healthy. I have grown so exhausted of this and I feel like it's getting in the way of completely enjoying my life and I'm simply functioning rather than living in the moment. 

This post has been thanked 1 time. 28 January 2020 - 20:42

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Hi there, positive distraction. .. Reading a favourite book or magazine, listening to favourite music, new album by favourite artiste.  Getting deeply involved in something else will allow your breathing to regulate itself, whilst you take a well earned break.


This post has been thanked 1 time. 28 January 2020 - 23:52

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Hi Bat

That can actually be quite a scary thing thinking that I'm always going to be aware of my breathing but  keeping yourself busy and trying to occupy yourself with something else, it could be listening to music as Wannabe was saying to playing a video, something that you enjoy big time.  I wonder if the taking deep breaths would actually be more of a challenge for yourself and a bit scary but we must never think of this is scary. I tend to use the scary term because I feel like that could of been myself, I think I remember times where I was focused on my breathing to the point of thinking about it all the time.

Relaxation techniques might be of help as well. I know some relaxation techniques encourage us to take deep breaths.

This is bringing back memories yes I think I remember when I was focused on breathing and it had to be the right breathe sort of thing. For example if I took a breath in the wrong way I would need to do that again making a few deeper and making it so I sound out of breath. Sorry I think I may of confused myself when thinking back to it.

Keep strong.

23 June 2020 - 8:44

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Hi Bat 

Firstly, hope you’re feeling a bit better! I’ve had exactly the same thing - which I also self-diagnose as sensorimotor ocd centred on breathing. I have to clarify it as self-diagnosed as, in my area in England, there is no one qualified in this relatively niche Subset of ocd (it took me a long time to even find matching symptoms online). Once you’ve established what you think it is (assuming you have not had this diagnosed by a doctor) there is some excellent literature online (Grayson, hershfield). However, I believe there is something fundamentally  missing with regards to the description of breathing form of hyperawareness and why it should be separated from the blinking, eye floaters etc... As you alluded to, controlling your breathing can feel ‘good’. This isn’t just because it is ‘ritual’ or a ‘control’, but because it can stimulate the parasympathetic nervous system; a physical process which acts to calm you down. In fact, most online resources tell you to use ‘deep breathing’ to calm your anxiety and ‘relax’, which can be very confusing advice for someone with sensorimotor ocd. Interestingly, the literature on panic disorder will warn against breathing manipulation because it is considered a ‘false safety aid’. In my experience it has led to an obsession with ‘deep breathing’, not just ‘breathing’. Despite this important distinction At the root of it, it is the same as the other forms of sensorimotor ocd - a fear that the thoughts that are preoccupying you will remain forever and will ruin your life. The anxiety cycle that ensues will ensure you get stuck in a vicious circle. The treatment that I feel has worked best for me, but hasn’t been without it’s challenges, is ACT therapy. In particular the ‘acceptance’ part of anxiety. Basic instructions are to avoid deep breathing, just breathe naturally and accept, and actually welcome, the anxiety that follows. You will notice and observe how anxiety works in your body. It is simply an uncomfortable sensation and not a dangerous one. If you accept it and don’t fight it it will spike and then diminish.  Any questions, let me know. 







23 June 2020 - 19:43

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I've struggled with this myself and the thing that worked for me was not changing my breathing when it felt "weird". I just accepted the discomfort and anxiety, because it was harder to regulate it/ get it back to "normal". So I thought, "fine, I'll just breathe weird since it's obviously what my body wants to do." I understand that this is easier said than done, but it really worked wonders for me. 

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