Your breath is powerful, and free, medicine that can help to ease stress and angst. We have all experienced frustration, dis-ease, nervousness, and anger. All of these emotional states can feel overwhelming, and it can feel easy to spiral as a result of these emotions.
Your breath is a readily available tool, that can help you to shift the state of your mind and the state of your body.
Your Breath + Your Nervous System
Your breath serves as a bridge between your mind and body. Your breath also plays an essential role in your nervous system giving it the potential to change the way you react to stress.
If there is an immediate threat, or perceived threat your sympathetic nervous system reacts with the fight-or flight response. This response is incredibly important because it can help you take quick action in dangerous situations, or help you to protect yourself from perceived harm or stress. The physical response to fight-or-flight is increased blood pressure, dilated pupils and labored, or heavy breathing.
The parasympathetic nervous system helps you return to, and maintain a state of rest-and-digest. Rest and digest supports the relaxation response in your body. Here your heart rate is calm, your breath is slow and your body can begin to repair and rejuvenate.
Your sympathetic and parasympathetic nervous systems both impact your breath. In the nervous system your mind and body are linked. In this equation your breath is what you have the most control over and when you calm your breathing, there are positive effects on your nervous system. This improves both the physiology of your body and the state of your mind.
The fastest way to get out of your head and back into your body is by way of your breath. Breath has the power to bring you back to the present moment, anchoring you in the safety of your own being.
Handling Stressful Minutes + Moments
We have all experienced difficult minutes and moments. It is in these times where emotions feel like hurdles and reactions add fuel to the fire. It is also in these times where it becomes vital to redirect your energy towards de-escalation. This takes practice. Being in the heat of the moment can feel overwhelming, but if you can take some space for yourself, find a seat, and focus solely on your breath your potentially negative reaction can turn into a powerful, meaningful, and healing response for yourself and others.
Here is what you can do to find some ease in tense moments.
FIND A SEAT
Sit with your feet on the floor and your hand resting gently in your lap. Let your gaze be soft and still and your breath be natural and slow. Take a moment to notice all the points of contact your body has with the earth, and then bring your awareness towards your breath. Again, your breath is the bridge between your mind and body, and the practice will help you become more aware of what you are feeling in your body instead of the story you are creating in your mind.
Visualize roots leaving your hands, legs, and feet. Watch these roots travel far below the Earth’s surface. This visualization will help you to embody what it feels like to be grounded.
With the support of each one of your exhales your roots grow deeper. The more you can lengthen your exhale the more relaxed you will feel. Start by adding two or three second to the end of your exhale.