It is clearly visible on our breathing when we are stressed.
Those who have been stressed for a long time often breathe quickly and violently and regularly breathe. The rapid, superficial breathing prevents the body from absorbing enough oxygen.
Every state in us is linked to a special kind of breath: When we are calm we breathe deeply and slowly through the nose and continues when we are scared we breathe quickly through the mouth. When we are angry we breathe violently through the nose. When we are relieved we take a deep breath and sigh. And when we are stressed, the breathing becomes fast and superficial.
Breathing controls how we feel
This goes in two directions with breathing and permission. So it is not just how we feel that affects how we breathe, we can also reverse it and affect our condition by consciously taking control of our breathing.
The usual view of breathing is that breathing is something we just do, it’s not something we think about. But by consciously taking control of our breath, we can change how we feel. For those who are accustomed to yoga or meditating, conscious breathing is well known, and conscious breathing is also found in elite sport.
How can you reduce stress with your breathing?
The most important thing to have an effect with stress-relieving breathing is to breathe deeply and ensure that the exhalations are at least as long as the inhalations. Every time we exhale, the heart slows down and the parasympathetic part of the nervous system is activated. Among other things, it increases the secretion of the hormone oxytocin which helps us to relax and feel safe.
The great thing is that the stress-relieving effect of conscious breathing is immediate; you notice the difference after only five breaths. This means that it takes about 30 seconds to get an effect, and those who breathe ten deep breaths notice even more difference.
The person who begins to breathe long, deep breaths can initially get a pain in the chest. If the body is not used to it, you will feel it, but it is not dangerous. Compare this to the pain in the muscles of the person who is not used to exercising, the pain is not pleasant, but it is harmless and passes quickly.
Make sure you reflect on our breathing. How are your breaths at this very moment? If your breathing is quick and superficial, it is probably a sign that you are stressed. That insight is no failure – on the contrary. By becoming aware of how you breathe, you can begin to take control of breathing and thus take control of how you feel.
To reduce stress:
- Close your eyes and take a deep breath in through your nose while counting quietly to three.
- Exhale through the nose and count silently to three.
- Then continue for 5-10 breaths.
- Of course, you can count more than three if you want. The important thing is that you try to breathe deeply into your stomach and that your exhalations are at least as long as your inhalations.
- By counting as you breathe, you get another stress-relieving effect: you need to use your conscious thinking, which removes focus from unsettled thoughts.