You probably don’t think about your breath all that often, it is one of those things that we just take for granted.
Thankfully it is one of those automated functions that is controlled by our unconscious mind, constantly adjusting our breath to ensure that our oxygen needs are being met and our body remains in status quo! However, we also have the ability to consciously control our breath and when we pay attention to the way in which we breathe it can have a dramatic impact on our stress.
“When you’re stressed or anxious, your breathing tends to be irregular and shallow,” says Kristoffer Rhoads, Ph.D., a clinical neuropsychologist. Your breath isn’t just part of your body’s stress response, it’s key to it. In fact, you can induce a state of anxiety or panic in someone just by having them take shallow, short breaths from their chest.
This is an automatic survival function of the brain to get more oxygen into the body to support the fight or flight mechanism that is triggered by stress. So, when we breathe in this way it sends confirmation to the brain that we are indeed stressed, creating a mind body loop!
When we consciously intervene with this process and take control of the breath, slowing things down and breathing deeply, this contradicts the stress signals in the body and activates the parasympathetic nervous system, your rest and relax response, counteracting and actively reducing the stress hormones in the body.
The next time you are feeling stressed or anxious try this
Noticing the differences for yourself in how your body feels is more powerful than anyone describing it to you. Just breathe!