Epilepsy Talk

Breathing Your Stress Away… | November 18, 2009

A little while ago, when I went to my doc, I told him I felt like I was jumping out of my skin.  I’m already maxed out on meds, so he suggested breathing exercises as a complimentary addition to my regimen.

I’ve started them and already, I feel better!

And, not surprisingly, I’m not the only one… 

“In a survey of 177 patients, 58 per cent cited that seizures occurred more frequently when they were stressed.  And most of us already know from experience that stress is the most frequent trigger of seizures, and can also cause sleep deprivation and fatigue.

Then, in a more recent survey of 89 patients, 64 per cent of people with epilepsy reported that they believed stress increased the frequency of their seizures. 32 per cent had tried stress reduction techniques, and of those who hadn’t, 53 per cent were willing to try.”  (Michelle Bellon, PhD)

That’s all fine and well…but where do you start?

Take a deep breath…

The basic concept is inhaling slowly and smoothly through your nostrils and then exhaling slowly through pursed lips (as if you were blowing out a candle). 

Start by breathing in deeply.  At first, use the same amount of time for both inhaling and exhaling — 4 counts as you inhale, 4 counts as you exhale.  That should keep you from feeling weak or dizzy.  (If you feel the least bit shaky, STOP!)

After practicing that for awhile, try to take a longer time exhaling than inhaling.  For example: you could inhale for 4 counts, hold your breath for 4 counts and then slowly exhale to the count of 8.   (Note: Make sure to exhale slowly. Rapid, consecutive inhaling and exhaling can cause hyperventilation, which could trigger a seizure!)

One inhalation and one exhalation make up one round of the breathing exercise.  Shoot for at least 3 rounds, 2 times daily.

The beauty of this stress-buster is that it can be done any time, any place…

While you’re relaxing…doing chores…standing in line…waiting in the doctor’s office (that’s a good time for stress relief!)…before you go to sleep.  Any time you have the time or need a little calm and comfort.

I know it works for me.  Why not give it a try and let me know what you think?


Sally Fletcher


Michelle Bellon, PhD


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    About the author

    Phylis Feiner Johnson

    Phylis Feiner Johnson

    I've been a professional copywriter for over 35 years. I also had epilepsy for decades. My mission is advocacy; to increase education, awareness and funding for epilepsy research. Together, we can make a huge difference. If not changing the world, at least helping each other, with wisdom, compassion and sharing.

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