When Stressed, Breathe Like A Baby
May 4, 2021|
Back in the days when we were potential prey for Pterodactyls, the reaction to this stressor was to breathe rapidly and shallowly from the chest This fight or flight response was a way to bring in extra oxygen to fuel the heart and muscles to prepare for escape.
Though humans are no longer under threat of a Pterodactyl attack, the response to daily stressors–emails, texts, etc– is the same, rapid and shallow chest breathing which increases anxiety.
A great way to lower this fight or flight response and reduce anxiety is to practice belly breathing. Ever watch a baby breathe? Their bellies rise and fall with each breath. According to Harvard Health Publishing, belly or diaphragmatic breathing stimulates the vagus nerve which runs from the head down the neck through the chest and to the colon. This activates a relaxation response which reduces heart rate and blood pressure and subsequently stress levels.
To practice belly breathing, place one hand on your chest and the other on your belly. Take a deep breath into your belly. Your belly hand shoulder rise, your chest hand should not move at all.
For more tips on belly breathing and stress relief, read here.
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