Muriel Cooper
Psychologist in Mornington

Happiness and success

 

Breathing your way out of Stress and Anxiety

Be stillThere us a special type of breathing which does just this.  This method of breathing is ‘conscious’ – that is, it’s not the breathing you simply do to stay alive, it’s deliberate and can be done at any time, not just when you feel stressed to anxious.  Be pro-active!

Relaxing breathing means breathing not into your chest but deep into your tummy or diaphragm which is below your chest.

The secret is that the out breath must be longer than the in breath.

This stimulates the part of your nervous system that is responsible for relaxation. This is a basic law of biology and if you breathe in this way then your body will have no choice but to relax. It may take a few minutes but the body will respond regardless of what your mind is thinking.

Experience this now.

Sit down and close your eyes.

Become aware of your breathing.

Breathe in for seven seconds … breathe out for elevens seconds.

Count in to seven – count out to eleven - If you like you can hold the breath for two counts at the end of the out breath – let everything go ‘floppy’ and relaxed before you take in the next breath.
Like everything, it takes Practice, Patience and Positivity, but as it causes your stress and anxiety levels to drop, you may also find that you begin to breathe this way automatically if you feel anxious.  Do it consciously even when you feel OK.

There is another technique, developed by Herbert Benson at Harvard University.

As a result of studies showing that meditation had a relaxing effect. Benson discovered that after a few minutes of breathing and repeating a word or ‘mantra’, the body responded by slowing down the heartbeat and lowering the blood pressure – a physiological phenomenon he called ‘The Relaxation Response’.

In fact Benson’s book is called ‘The Relaxation Response’ and makes very interesting reading.
Benson combined the relaxing breathing with a word.  He tried several words and finally discovered that the word that seemed to work best was simply ‘One’.

Breathe in – and as you breathe our say out loud or in your head ‘One’.  You can’t help but make the out breath longer than the in breath.

If there are distractions like sounds, thoughts inside your head and the like – do not engage with them.  Simply notice that they are there and let them float away.

I like to focus my eyes by looking straight ahead also (as a visual component).

Start by working up to ten minutes at a time and take it from there.

Regular relaxation actually starts to inhibit the production of stress hormones in the body so it actually becomes harder and harder to become stressed and anxious.

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