Did you know you can breathe stress away?
People often comment ‘Breathing? I do it all the time without thinking! What’s so different about this technique?’ The answer is simple:
When we breathe in, we activate the sympathetic nervous system. It’s more of an effort to breathe in and so, when we breathe in, we tense.
When we breathe out, we engage the parasympathetic nervous system. We relax. We have a feeling of letting go.
So, if we continue for five or ten minutes to engage a breathing pattern of a longer out breath than in breath, we cannot help but start to relax. Counting is a good idea too. Count in for seven and out for eleven or in for four and out for seven. The count doesn’t matter as long as it’s comfortable for you and the out breath is always longer.
With the understanding that our emotional and rational brains cannot function optimally simultaneously , if we are counting and concentrating on our breathing rate, we are using the neo cortex or rational brain, which automatically has the effect of lowering emotional arousal.
Working with a trained therapeutic coach helps the client to establish an ability to relax whenever he or she chooses, gaining control over panic attacks and other anxiety patterns. The diaphragmatic breathing technique is also useful in anger management, OCD or self harm, where emotional arousal is usually very high. It buys the client time to stop, step back from the situation and re-establish control.
This very simple breathing technique works really well.
However, like any technique, it improves with practise. I usually suggest ten minutes on waking in the morning to get the day off to a great start, ten minutes last thing at night to enjoy deeper and more restful sleep, and five minutes during the day whenever anxiety levels start to rise.
Try it for yourself. There are no nasty side effects, no contra-indications and, at the point of writing nobody has found a way to charge us for the air we breathe… So it’s free!