I don’t think a day goes by where at one point I don’t feel some sort of stress, anxiety, or worry about something or someone in the past, present, or future.
Although there are a variety of remedies to lesson those feelings, today I’m sharing my go-to method to relax and calm my nerves, and it takes less than a minute.
It’s simple; 3 deep breaths in and out through the nose.
I know, I know. We hear all the time from our yoga teachers, mystics and gurus, and endless articles online and in print on how deep and focused breathing is the starting point for stilling our inner turmoil.
Breathing is one of the most basic of things we do each day, yet it’s easy to ignore.
Controlling your breathing calms your brain.
Although the idea of controlling your breathing to calm the brain has been around for years, only recently has science started uncovering how it actually works. Scientists have discovered a neural circuit in the brainstem that appears to play a key role in the breathing/brain control connection. The circuit, aka the brain’s “breathing pacemaker,” can be adjusted by altering breathing rhythm (slow, controlled breathing decreases activity in the circuit; fast, erratic breathing increases activity), which in turn influences emotional states.
When you’re relaxed and calm, you’re more available for the most important things in your life.
- Assume a comfortable position where you can relax (seated in a chair or lying down on the floor).
- Now, slowly inhale through your nose filling up your lungs to their capacity, to the point where you can’t take in any more air.
- Then slowly exhale all the air out of your lungs completely.
- Do this two more times, more if you feel the need.
It takes me six seconds to complete a full in and out breath. If I take three slow deep breaths, it only takes 18 seconds for me to relax and feel more grounded. More is better.
When you finish with your three or more deep breaths, notice how you feel, from the inside out. It’s amazing how much your mind and body will calm down if you slowly fill and empty your lungs three or more times.
There’s more going on with each breath than we realize.
Controlled breathing may boost the immune system and improve energy metabolism.
In studies of the “Relaxation Response”, a method of engaging the nervous system’s “rest and digest” response to counteract the nervous system’s “fight or flight” response to stress, it was found that controlled breathing triggers a “rest and digest” response.
And, according to the theory, it may also improve immune system resiliency as a “downstream health benefit.” The study also found improvements in energy metabolism and more efficient insulin secretion, which results in better blood sugar management.
If accurate, the study’s results support the conclusion that controlled breathing doesn’t only reduce stress, but is also valuable for improving overall health.
Remind yourself to breathe.
Imagine if everyone stopped periodically throughout the day to take three deep breaths how much more calm and healthy the world would be.
If you enjoyed this article and would like to stay connected, sign up for my email list here.