Breathing exercises can really help to ground the body and calm the mind,
helping with every day stress and anxiety.
The breath is the bridge linking our mind and body and the practice of deep breathing
helps to stimulate our Parasympathetic Nervous System (PNS), bringing us to a calm
The science part:
Diaphragmatic (or belly) breathing stimulates the Parasympathetic Nervous System which allows the body to rest and digest, slowing the heart rate, lowering blood pressure and respiratory rate and diverting blood supply towards the digestive and reproductive systems.
When the Parasympathetic Nervous System is active, the Sympathetic Nervous System (SNS) becomes less active – they counteract each other. The SNS raises the heart rate, blood pressure and respiratory rate, diverting blood to the brain and skeletal muscle in readiness for fight/fight/freeze - our stress reaction.
By deactivating or overriding the SNS, we can interrupt the vicious cycle of adrenaline and cortisol which contribute to chronic stress levels and predispose us to panic attacks and anxiety.
I personally recommend any breathing exercises and affirm their effectiveness. I've used them numerous times, to calm myself down before a presentation in front of a large group of people, before a hospital appointment or the dentist. I have a Fitbit and the two minute relaxation works wonders, to focus the mind and concentrate on breathing. Here's a few more favourites that have amazing benefits.
Try a few rounds of this breathing technique for a few minutes and enjoy the calm sensation it brings you:
Place one hand on your upper chest and the other just below your rib cage. This will allow you to feel your diaphragm move as you breathe. Breathe in slowly through your nose so that your stomach moves out against your hand. The hand on your chest should remain as still as possible.
Here's two other breathing exercises which, with practice, can help to restore calm and reduce anxiety - before a presentation, exam nerves, flying, going into a tricky meeting, the dentist etc.
7 / 11 Eleven Breathing
Breath in for the count of 7
Breath out for the count of 11
Breath in for 4 counts, hold for 4, breath out for 4 and hold for 4.....and continue with a few rounds.