Sources of stress are all around us. At times, life can seem like an endless parade of stress triggers. Continual stressful events can wear on your mind and body, causing both physical and mental issues.
When we experience significant stress, several changes occur in our body due to our natural stress response: we start to breathe harder, our heart rate goes up, our blood pressure increases, our pupils get narrower, and adrenaline and cortisol (the primary stress hormone) are released in our body. Think “fight or flight.”
After a stressful event has passed, our bodies will usually reset and return to normal hormone, heart rate and blood pressure levels.
“Unfortunately, in our current high-stress culture, the stress response is activated so often that the body does not always have a chance to return to normal,” says Dr. James L Wilson.
We can, however, be aware of our stress levels and make a conscious effort to reset to a calmer state. We have all heard of different methods to decrease our stress and to help in times of panic. Some excellent examples are heart-pumping exercise, laughing, connecting with loved ones, counseling and meditation.
It is our belief that the simplest and most powerful way to decrease stress levels in the moment and to become realigned with life is to deep breathe.
Any old breathing won’t necessarily work to calm the body down. The best type of breathing is breathing through the diaphragm, which is called diaphragmatic breathing, or abdominal breathing.
The best way to get air into your diaphragm
Your diaphragm is located near your stomach, so it’s important to not just breathe into your lungs when you breathe deeply. Instead, imagine the breath going all the way down through your chest into your diaphragm. Breathe according to the following counts:
- Breathe in through your nose for a count of 5.
- Hold your breath for a count of 2
- Exhale through your mouth for a count of 6.
The key to effective diaphragmatic breathing is to exhale longer than you inhale.
When you exhale for longer than you inhale, it naturally calms the nervous system. It’s actually impossible for the body to maintain a hyper-alert status when you exhale more air than you inhale. Cortisol levels drop rapidly as the nervous system relaxes. When cortisol decreases and your breathing starts to relax and slow down, more oxygen enters the brain, promoting better brain function.
For a more stress-free life, practice deep breathing 3 or more minutes every day and anytime you want to feel calmer.
Practice creates habits. If you practice every day and get into a habit of relaxing your body, then you are more likely to use deep breathing when it is most needed.
Neuro Therapy and Trauma Center of Utah serves clients in Layton, Ogden, Clearfield and surrounding cities who deal with anxiety, ADHD and mood disorders. If you live in Layton, Ogden, or Clearfield and are suffering from anxiety, ADHD or mood disorders, please call 801-855-7999 or text 801-855-7999 today to find out how we can help you.