A Simple Breathing Technique to Reduce Stress
When we feel stressed, the last thing we think to ourselves is, “Take a deep breath”. It’s counter-intuitive to our body’s natural stress response. What actually happens during stress is that our breathing rate and patterns become shallow and the sympathetic nervous system’s “fight or flight” response takes over. Deep breathing, however, signals your brain to calm down and relax. Incorporating deep breathing is a mindfulness practice.
Right now, you may be rendering, “Do deep breathing when you’re stressed” the same way you would, “Just calm down when you’re angry”. I can assure you: As you continue to practice breathing, you will learn to employ this technique at a faster rate, coming into a stressful situation. Breathing is a tangible way to reap the benefits of slowing the physiological stress response, as opposed to trying to simply “calm down” mid-response. Try the simple breathing and mindset technique below and remember, deep breathing is a mindfulness practice, so stick with it, and reap the benefits in your mind and body!
1. Inhale to a count of 4, Exhale to a count of 4; Give yourself 2-3 breaths to bring focus and awareness to the body and mind.
2. Continue breathing and on the inhale, say to yourself, “I am inhaling (success, abundance, confidence, love, etc.) .” Focus on one or two positive terms to keep it simple in your thoughts.
3. On the exhale, say to yourself, “I am exhaling (negativity, fears, stress, etc) .”
*If at any point, the controlled breathing (via counting) does not feel good for you or you have any previous heart conditions, I invite you to simply notice your breathing and allow it to deepen naturally, without necessarily counting.