Stress Breathing' Techniques
Do NOT Take A
Coaches and athletes understand the need to practice
proper breathing habits to keep metabolism in
balance. Those of us who have poor breathing habits
can experience a drop in our body's energy by up to 85%.
This is a significant decline in aerobic energy
The physiological changes caused by poor breathing habits throws
off our pH balance, the ratio of O2 to CO2 in the
bloodstream, diminishes energy, and can create a feeling
of anxiety or poor health in general. Although we
naturally breathe automatically, over the course of our
lifetimes we actually learn to breathe incorrectly.
When we begin to feel stressed, we have a tendency to also begin
breathing faster and shallowly. This reduces the amount
of carbon dioxide in our blood causing blood vessels to
constrict. This often leads to hyper-ventilation,
throwing our metabolism completely out of balance!
a behavior that can be unlearned given time and effort.
So, first thing we need is to become aware of our breathing
habits by actually listening to ourselves breathe.
We need to count how many breaths we take per minute and
if that number is much over 12 in a relaxed state, we
need to think about how we can best re-learn to breathe
The "Breath In - Breath Out" Exercise –
The first step is to avoid holding your stomach in which prevents
the diaphragm from working properly. Relax your stomach
muscles and inhale slowly through your nose to a count
of 3. Now hold that breathe for a second and then exhale
to a count of 6. Repeat that three times and then allow
yourself to breath normally. The entire exercise should
take about 30 seconds.
A good 70% of your body's waste is eliminated through exhaling.
Attempting to double the time spent exhaling compared to
inhaling allows your body to balance its metabolism and
pH levels. It also increases the amount of energy
produced. In stressful situations, your body will
literally relax as you do it and your fight or flight
response will quickly recede.
As a quick fix, this type of breathing technique works
wonders for calming yourself down, but does not address
the larger issue of learning to breath this way all of
the time. To do this, you need to remain aware of your
breathing habits and continually remind yourself
to stay in control of your breathing.
If you condition yourself to breath properly, especially in
stressful situations, you will alleviate the stress
and anxiety of it and remain calm and rational. Good
breathing habits are learned, so training yourself
beginning today will get you back on track to a happier,
Over time, you will develop the the proper breathing technique,
but meanwhile, you may need prompting.
Consider this stress relief exercise –
Set a timer (for example on a digital watch) to beep every 3 to 5
minutes as a reminder to check your breathing. This
helps because as we submerse
ourselves into a given task, we can easily lose track of
our breathing without realizing it.
You may even find it helpful to repeat a phrase during your
"breath in - breath out" practice like, "I'm breathing in", "I'm breathing out",
to help you establish the proper rhythm. Your goal is to
allow your body to take over automatically with proper
Practice makes perfect - and you'll find that this is an
excellent stress management technique.
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Great works are
performed not by strength,
but by perseverance.
- Samuel Johnson
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