One of the main keys to successful stress management is your breathing. Breathing is such a primary function for our survival that we constantly take its power for granted and overlook this amazing tool with which we can regulate and stimulate our own good health.
Your automatic nervous system is responsible for your breathing process, which is why you do not need to think about it – you will breathe anyway! By understanding the very direct relationship between your breath and your brain and nervous system, you have a useful tool that can help you achieve and maintain a more balanced, positive, stress-free inner and outer life. After all, if you are feeling calm and centered, then your ability to solve problems, think more creatively and cope with outer world is enhanced.
Breathing and relaxation are powerful tools in the daily challenge of coping and overcoming stress. Notice how your breath is fast, short and shallow when you are angry, fearful or just under everyday stress, and how you naturally take deeper, slower and longer breaths when you are in a peaceful and relaxed state.
The chest expands when we breathe deeply, helping the release of inner tensions as we exhale. By changing breathing patterns and consciously breathing deeply into the abdomen, you can create a calm relaxed state from a fraught one. Deep breathing calms both the body and mind by slowing down heart rate and easing the nervous system.
The fact is the act of breathing is not necessarily the same as the art of breathing. Many people rush around, shallow-breathing their way through life and wondering why they always feel stressed, unwell and out of breath. By learning to let go of stressful symptoms, feelings and thoughts, by doing some deep breathing and using your exhalations as channels of release, you can do your body/mind some real short and long term good. Take a deep breath, inhaling through nose and, when you exhale, imagine you’re blowing out a candle, exhaling firmly through the mouth. Other variations on the same theme are using the ‘S’ sounds or a wide-open-mouthed ‘AH’ sound when you exhale. Repeat them two or three times.
It May seem too simple to be true, but the reality is your breathing holds the key that can unlock the stranglehold of stress and teach you invaluable lessons on how to cope with the inevitable stresses most of us face in modern life. Through breath awareness and conscious relaxation you can take control of all aspects of your health and enhance your ability to cope with life’s increasing pace. The importance of understanding how useful your breath is in stress control, of how to breathe well and breathe deep cannot be overemphasized. Deep breathing also enhances concentration, releases tension and eases pain.
By learning simple breathing exercises and by becoming more mindful of the art as well as the act of breathing, you can do a power of good for your mind and body. Try steady deep breathing 3 or 6 times, while you give yourself the inner direction to ‘LET IT ALL GO’, letting go until you return to your own rhythm of calm, quiet breathing (through the nose with the mouth closed).