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Self Development > Stress Breathing Techniques – Do NOT Take A Deep Breath
Stress Breathing Techniques – Do NOT Take A Deep Breath
When we begin feeling stressed, we have a tendency to also begin breathing faster and shallowly, which reduces the volume of carbon dioxide in our blood and causes blood vessels to constrict. More often than not, this can lead to hyper-ventilation, which throws our metabolism completely out of whack!
Coaches and athletes understand the need to practice good breathing habits to keep metabolism’s in balance and produce up to 99% of the body’s energy aerobically. Conversely, those of us who have poor breathing habits experience a drop to around 85%, which is a significant decline in aerobic energy production.
The physiological changes caused by poor breathing habits throws off our pH balance, the ratio of O2 to CO2 in the bloodstream, diminished energy and of course a feeling of anxiety or poor health in general. Although we naturally breathe autonomously, over the course of our lifetimes we actually learn to breathe incorrectly. It’s a behavior that can be unlearned given time and effort.
That said, we first need to become aware of our breathing habits, by actually listening to ourselves breathe. We need to time 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 normally.
The first step is to avoid holding the stomach in, preventing 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 have taken you 30 seconds.
Since a good 70% of your body’s waste is eliminated through exhaling, you’re going to always attempt to double the time spent exhaling compared to inhaling. This allows your body to balance its metabolism and pH levels and well as increase 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.
Over time, you will develop the habit, but meanwhile, you may need prompting. One solution is to 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 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 autonomously with proper breathing habits as a result of your practice.
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, healthier you!
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