We do it all day, every day, so what is the value in breathing?
How to …. Breathe
Did you know Diaphragmatic Breathing is one of the easiest resilience-building tools out there? It is free, it is easy and it works!
The value comes from its impact on our sympathetic nervous system, which is otherwise known as our fight or flight response. When we are stressed, we experience it physically through:
- Increased heart rate to get blood pumping to our muscles;
- Sweating to cool the body down;
- The release of adrenaline to increase strength and speed;
- Faster, shallower breathing to get fresh oxygen in quickly;
- Decreased immune and digestive functioning to conserve energy.
These are all great things if we are running away from a sabre-toothed tiger, but less helpful when we are just trying to get through the day and struggling to wind down or focus on family in the way that we might like.
That is where diaphragmatic breathing comes in. Our breathing rate is the ONLY part of our sympathetic nervous system response that we can actively control. And when we bring our breathing rate down, it, in turn, switches everything else off. How cool is that?
So, how do you do it? EASY!
Start by breathing in through your nose for a count of 4 seconds, then breathe out for a count of 4 seconds. Rinse and repeat.
Make sure your breath is filling your diaphragm first, rather than your chest. You can check this by placing a hand on your belly and a hand on your chest. You want your bottom hand to move first and further.
Start by doing this for short periods of time whenever you are feeling stressed and then build it into your everyday practice. Ideally, you are aiming for 4+ minutes a day and extending your breath to 7+ seconds.
Get familiar with the technique and start building it into our daily practice.
Remember it is a fabulous tool to use when you are experiencing anxiety or heading into a panic situation.
Whenever you can, try and pause and start diaphragmatic breathing. How does it make you feel? I know that I definitely feel my body and mind slow and become far more relaxed. Watch my video below and try breathing with me. I would love to hear what you think before and after this breathing exercise.