Breathing badly makes us stressed
Out of breath, running about, panting, shallow breathing. Just those terms make me feel stressed. And you may have noticed that if you are feeling stressed you breathing becomes faster and more shallow.
In certain circumstances, if you were under a real physical threat for example, this sort of breathing would be useful. It pumps air quickly into your lungs so you can get ready to run away or to fight off the threat.
But for most of us of course there is rarely a physical threat. Yet, if we are feeling stressed our body behaves as if there is.
Send you body the right signals for calm
The good news is that we can change this by simple breathing exercises. And it works both ways. If you are breathing deeply, slowly and regularly then your body will receive the signal “not stressed” and your mind will feel calmer.
There are many forms of slow deep breathing I can teach you and I will show you quite a few in the next couple of months. But let’s start with one of my favourites, known as counting breathing or 7/11 breathing.
Let’s get you working in a comfortable way first. So try breathing in while you count to seven, then breathe out while you count to 11. If that feels comfortable to you then good. If it feels a bit of an effort then try breathing in for 6 and out for 10, still finding it difficult in for 5 and out for 9, still too hard then in for 4 then out for 8. Experiment until you get a rhythm you feel comfortable with. The numbers do not matter, what is important is that your outbreath is significantly longer than your in breath.
Once you are happy with your rhythm then you can really use this technique. Take yourself somewhere quiet and practise breathing in your rhythm for five minutes. As you breathe, push your tummy out. That will ensure that the breath is going right into your body and that you are breathing using your whole core.
Use your breathing technique anywhere and anytime
Do this every day and you will find yourself calmer. Also, as you become more practised at this technique you will find you can do it anywhere at any time. So, if you are stressed at work, stuck in traffic, waiting to deliver a public speech just breathe in your rhythm. It’s your new secret weapon.
I’ll see you next week when I’ll show you another breathing technique and give you some tips on looking confident even when you don’t feel it. You may find that this technique works well in conjunction with the self hypnosis technique I showed you last week.