Overview: Breathing Techniques
Controlled, relaxed breathing gets your mind and body functioning at their best. By using your breath, you can calm your nervous system which will not only feel more relaxing but will help you think clearer and perform more effectively. To begin with, because we are not used to focusing on our breath, this exercise may make you feel a bit anxious, so only do what feels comfortable to you
Deeper and more relaxed breathing enables more oxygen to reach our brain and stimulates the Parasympathetic nervous system. This makes us feel calmer. More specifically, when our out-breath is even slightly longer than our in-breath, we also stimulate this Parasympathetic nervous system and we turn down the Sympathetic nervous system. The Sympathetic nervous system stimulates our fight or flight response to threat. So when it kicks in, our heart rate increases and stress-related hormones are released into the blood. The parasympathetic nervous system is responsible for our calm, rested and relaxed state. Your breathing slows down, your heart rate decreases, and you end up in a state of calm and relaxation which means you make more rational decisions and performance is easier.
Stop and sit comfortably with both feet on the floor and start paying attention to your breath.
Gently acknowledge if you are not breathing gently and kindly.
Now adjust your breathing by following the steps below:
- Breathe into your chest and just notice how your breathing feels as you breath in and out
- Find a comfortable breathing pace that feels soothing and calming by experimenting with the pace, slower, faster
- Now settle into the pace that feels soothing and just sit and notice your in breath and your outbreath through your nose
- Don’t worry if your mind wanders….just bring it back to the breath
- Check in with your environment by grounding yourself in the here and now, paying attention to your feet on the floor
- Find your focus back on your breathing, or if you find this hard perhaps focus on an object, like holding something in your hand like a tactile object
- Focus on your breathing or the object for a minute with the pace that feel soothing
- Open your eyes slowly and have a stretch Do this several times a day
Wherever you are, just stop and start paying attention to your breath.
Consider if your breathing rate is contributing towards how you are feeling.
- Breath in for a count of 7
- Then breath out for a count of 11 Continue for 1 to 2 minutes
- Notice how your physical self is calmer and your heart rate has slowed down at the end of this time
- If you find it difficult to reach 7 or ,11 this doesn’t matter, just count to say 5 for your in-breath and , 8 for your out-breath. The important part of this is that your out-breath is longer than your in-breath.