Deep diaphragmatic breathing is wonderful way to help feel more relaxed and calm. It starts by calming yourself physiologically, which can then lead to you feeling more relaxed mentally.
PHYSICAL RESPONSE TO STRESS
When we begin to feel stress or anxiety, our sympathetic nervous system activates. This leads to a more rapid heart rate, feeling more alert, and sends blood to our muscle groups. It also makes it more difficult for us to focus or engage in activities usually associated with rest (e.g. sleeping, eating, etc.).
When we are feeling physically activated, our mind begins to become more stressed out. Our body may begin to release stress hormones and our mind also can interpret these physical symptoms and decide that there is something dangerous around, hence we experience our emotions more intensely.
However, when we active our ‘rest and digest’ system (parasympathetic nervous system), which we can do via deep breathing, we are then able to regain focus and feel more relaxed overall.
HOW DO YOU DO IT?
- Place a hand over your chest and one over your stomach
- When you breathe, make sure your stomach is going in and out, not your chest
- Breathe in very slowly through your nose until your stomach feels full with air
- Hold the breath for a count of four
- Breathe out very slowly through your mouth
- Repeat for 5-7 minutes