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How To Use Your Breath For Stress Relief

How To Use Your Breath For Stress Relief

Stress is a natural automatic human response. In challenging or dangerous situations our bodies are designed to physically respond to protect us. When stressed our body thinks it’s under attack and goes into ‘fight or flight’ mode. In modern times this is still very useful in helping us survive dangerous situations, such as reacting quickly to a child running out onto the road and having to slam on the brakes. The problem is when our body is kept in a state of stress for long periods of time because of what is happening around us at home, work and the demands we place on ourselves.

When our bodies are stressed the blood flow is going mostly to the main muscles needed for ‘fight or flight’. Less blood flowing to the brain means less oxygen. Over time, lack of oxygen will lead to mental sluggishness, lack of focus and inability to concentrate and a loss of emotional control that can lead to depression & anxiety.

Breathing is an automatic function of the body that is controlled by the respiratory centre of the brain. The very same part of the brain instigates the stress response which effects our breathing rate and pattern changes as part of the ‘fight-or-flight response’. So it makes sense that we can control our response to stressful situations with our breath.

You may not have control over some situations or be able to avoid them completely but you do have control over your breathing. Deep breathing reduces the levels of stress hormones in the blood. Just by using your breath you are able to easily, effectively and efficiently change your state and how you feel.

Identifying any stressors and accepting your responsibility or the role you play in creating or maintaining these stressors in your life will help you feel more in control and able to make changes when and where necessary. Sometimes our stressors arise on a regular basis, getting the kids ready for school, your commute to work, a weekly meeting with your boss, Sunday dinners with the mother in law… when you know these situations are going to arise, you can choose to change the situation or change your reaction to stressful situations by using this simple breathing technique.

4-7-8 breathing

 You can do this exercise either sitting or lying down.

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