How Breathwork Can Help Manage Stress

You know that breathing is necessary for life, but you may not have thought much about how you actually breath. How you breath is an indicator for what's going on inside of your body. For many of us, we breath fast, shallow and high in the chest because we are so stimulated, stressed, and constantly in go-go-go mode. This is the adrenaline mode of our sympathetic nervous system that causes us to be in "fight or flight". In our modern world, this is kiiiiinda how we're programmed to be.

We are rarely taught to take daily time for ourselves or to do other things that held us balance the two sides of our nervous system: the stress side and the relaxation side. When our nervous system is balanced, we are constantly moving between different degrees of stress and relaxation depending on what's going on. For instance, if you are crossing the street and a car is about to hit you, then you'll be happy that your stress respond kicks in and you leap out of the way. But you wouldn't be so happy if you carried that level of adrenaline when you tried to eat, sleep, care for your children, meditate, or love your partner.

You just can't shut off. Your mind, your body, your emotions... they are always zinging around creating more stimulation. As a result, you breath shallow, fast, and high in the chest. To change this response you have two options.

  1. Change your lifestyle so that you can relax more, slow down, and smell more roses.
  2. Change your breathing so that you can tell our body to turn off the stress response and turn on the relaxation part of our nervous system.

Ideally, we want to make changes to both, but one of these methods will get you faster results, especially for things like falling asleep, better digesting your food, or keeping your temper in check. 

Try this. 

  • Sit up straight
  • Place a hand on your belly
  • Close your eyes, if it makes you comfortable.
  • Breathe deeply and slowly into the belly, feeling your hand rise up
  • Exhale deeply and slowly out of the belly, feeling the hand lower
  • Repeat this 10 times without rushing. Don't worry if your mind wanders-- just bring it back to the breathing if you get lost. 

After 10 breathes, how do you feel? Hopefully a bit more relaxed, calm, and centered. This is the power of your breath! It's free, portable and you can use it anytime, anywhere. Next time you're feeling stressed, take a few deep belly breathes to reset. 

To learn more about breathwork, you can check out my 8-week Breathwork and Mindfulness Mentorship

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