Your breath is one of the easiest ways to get into the Parasympathetic or relaxed state.
The parasympathetic pathway is where your mind realizes that your body can relax, rest, and feel safe. On the other hand, the sympathetic pathway is responsible for preparing for an emergency, and unfortunately for most of us, our bodies are continuously in this high alert state, increasing stress and anxiety.
With nasal breathing you get 20% more oxygen
than through your mouth. Air is slowed down, filtered, moistened and
pressurized. Your heart rate stays lower even when the intensity of your
Inhalation is considered the sympathetic state (eg: get scared you inhale and hold your breath)
Exhalation is your parasympathetic state (eg: think about going to the spa, you tend to give a relaxed sigh) So try and exhale longer. 4 second inhale and 8 second exhale
You need to manipulate the diaphragm to expand, not just the belly but the lower rib cage also.
This is key to reducing stress,as it frees up the tension in your neck muscles and rather than using the upper chest muscles to breathe you focus on your lower diaphragm.
Upper chest breathing with heavy inhales can cause soreness of the neck, tension headaches, and nerve tension.
“Belly breathing”, which engages the diaphragm, is the natural way of breathing (not the chest)
By regulating your breathing through diaphragmatic and nasal breathing you retain more carbon dioxide, expelling it out more controlled, you become able to handle the stress more within your body. Another way is to turn on the cold water when showering, but hey, that’s a discussion for another time….