The breath, it’s vital for our survival yet can actually cause health issues if we aren’t careful to control it.
Immediate Stress Relief
Our bodies naturally perform best when we take deep, long breaths. These breaths activate our parasympathetic nervous system, allowing all other systems to operate optimally. However, when we are constantly stressed out we are subconsciously activating our sympathetic nervous system, which is designed to kick in when we are in extreme danger. This is great for situations when we need to react fast, but can cause serious health risks if prolonged. Not to worry, immediate stress relief is just a few breaths away. Seriously.
Deep breathing to the rescue!
If you find yourself continuously stressed out it could be because your body is constantly in fight or flight mode. Luckily , you can turn this around with some simple breathing techniques.
Fight or Flight
Symptoms that you’re in fight or flight mode include rapid heart rate and short, shallow breathing, which is your body’s way of preparing you physically and mentally to defend against a predator (like a lion). In this state, your body slows down all basic functions, like digestion, to hyper focus on survival. Now, it’s unlikely that you’ll need to suddenly defend against a wild animal, but if you are constantly under serious pressure or stress your brain reacts the same way, which is what can lead your breathing to constantly be directed towards your chest and lungs, rather than your lower ribcage and belly. And that’s where the danger lurks.
The Stress Cycle
If you’re constantly stressed-out, burnt-out or overworked you could possibly be directing your breath towards your chest, which is in turn telling your brain you’re in a constant state of distress, causing it to release stress hormones you don’t necessarily need. It’s a subconscious reaction, but also one you can control with practice. It can also be a never-ending cycle if you allow it. Stress causes short breaths and shallow breathing. Overtime, if the short breaths and shallow breathing become normal, you brain believes you are under constant stress and continues to release stress hormones and other systems, like digestion, take a toll.
Enter deep breathing.
One of the quickest and easiest ways to calm nervous energy is by focusing on the breath. Sounds too easy, but trust me, it works! There are times when we need immediate stress relief, and this strategy is very effective, if you give it a chance. Here’s why. Deep breathing can cause your parasympathetic nervous system to kick in, and that’s what you want! If you’ve ever been to a yoga class you’ve likely noticed a feeling of bliss afterwards, that’s because you parasympathetic nervous system aka, relaxation mode kicked in! It’s a god feeling, isn’t it?
Deep Breathing Benefits
When your are able to relax your breathing, your mind and body will soon follow. Tight muscles? Try deep breathing. Once you begin to control your breath, your mind will soon start to relax, and your muscles follow. Like magic! But, it’s really just science. 😉 What’s even more important is to direct those breaths towards your lower ribcage.
We live in a fast-paced society, one that encourages hustle, hard work and well, exhaustion. Rarely do we take a moment (or two) to stop and listen to our bodies. By doing so, you may notice your muscles are tight or you’re more easily irritated. You may suffer from insomnia, or have digestive issues. These are all symptoms of stress. While a fast-paced life may be the norm, it’s not exactly healthy. What we’re telling our body is that we are in a RUSH. And rushing causes us to breathe shallow, short breaths in our chests. This signals to our brains that we are stressed out, and our brains then mistakenly activate our sympathetic nervous systems, otherwise known as the “flight or fight” mode. While that’s effective in situations where we need it to be activated, it’s very unhealthy if it’s being activated on a daily basis.
Practice Makes Perfect
If you’re feeling especially overworked, exhausted and stressed out you may want to practice deep breathing to reduce the anxiety you’re feeling. Just like your brain is being “tricked” into preparing you for flight/fight mode, you can “trick” it back into relaxation mode and activate the parasympathetic nervous system, otherwise known as “rest and digest mode” This will help to slow down your racing heart down and cause your breathing (and even digestion) to mellow out. Heck, you may also sleep better! Talk about immediate stress relief.
Long-Term Stress & Disease
Research has proven that chronic stress can lead to long term health concerns like anxiety and depression. Being proactive and taking control of our health, starting with something as simple as breathing, can potentially prevent the long-term effects of stress. The next time you feel stressed out, take a moment to re-direct your breath from your chest to your lower ribcage. If it helps, place your hand on your belly to direct your breath there until it becomes natural. It may take time to re-direct your breath in this way, especially if you’ve been under long-term stress. But, trust me, it’s possible to re-train your breath to your belly for long term stress relief.
Deep Breathing Challenge
Since we live in a fast-paced, stressed out society we all can use a little help redirecting our breath from a place of anxiety to a place of relaxation. But it’s important to learn how to do it correctly! My challenge to you is to take 5 minutes a day for the next 7 days to focus on breathing well so you can stress less. In time this technique can not only reduce overall stress, but will help you relieve short-term stress quickly. Enter your info via the link below to start the Deep Breathing Challenge today, there really is no better time than now to take control of your health!
Join The Challenge
➙ Click here to join my 7 Day Deep Breathing Challenge to learn how to use your breath to quickly reduce stress and start feeling more relaxed, naturally.
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