28 Jul Breathing to Reduce Stress
Ever felt tense, anxious, frazzled or overwhelmed? Never underestimate the power of a slow, deep breath. Deep breathing is when we breathe in air slowly through our nose, fully filling our lungs, then exhale slowly through our mouths. It is a great way to reduce tension and relieve stress. It can help us feel calm and focussed. It can be life-changing!
What’s Happening to Me.
Nervous, overwhelmed, panicked? We’ve all been there…sweaty palms, tight chest, pounding heart and shallow breathing. It’s awful. Our stress and anxiety nervous system is called the ‘Sympathetic Nervous System’ and it is activated by shallow breathing. When we take small, sharp breaths our body thinks we are in a state of alarm. The result is an elevation in heart rate, our blood pressure increases, it triggers the release of nasty stress hormones including cortisol and adrenalin which all combine to make us feel anxious and uptight.
Fortunately there is a way to switch off the ‘fight or flight’ mechanism in our body. We have the power to deliberately change our own breathing. Studies show that slow, controlled breathing can help us manage stress. Our ‘De-stress’ nervous system, the ‘Parasympathetic Nervous System’, is effectively able to be activated by deep breathing, triggering a relaxation response and as a result we feel calmer, less anxious and more focussed.
Deep breathing is one of the best ways to lower stress in the body. When we breathe deeply, it sends a message to our brain to calm down. The brain then sends this message to our body. The things that happen when we feel stressed like an increased heart rate, fast shallow breathing, a tight chest and high blood pressure all decrease as we breathe deeply to relax.
Breathing exercises are an ideal way to relieve stress. They can be done anywhere at any time like on the bus on the way to work, before picking children up from school, when stuck in traffic or before a work presentation. The fact that it is simple, free, accessible and can be performed by just about anyone, anywhere is a total bonus!
Here is how basic deep, controlled breathing works:
- Sit, stand or lie in a comfortable position.
- Slowly inhale through your nose for four seconds, fully filling your lungs.
- Pause or hold the breath for two seconds.
- Release the breath slowly, counting to six as you exhale from your mouth.
- Repeat the sequence several times. That’s it!
Learning deep breathing is one of the kindest things we can do for ourselves. It can also have a profound effect on our health and the way we manage stress. So next time you are feeling anxious, stressed, fatigued or just need a little more focus give it a try.
If you are feeling overburdened, overwhelmed and overloaded with life and the desire to change is lurking… don’t hesitate to contact me for some simple, effective stress management techniques that will help bring some more calm, focus and fulfilment to your daily life.