In last week’s blog I posed the question, is there a connection between stress and breath?
By the end of the blog the evidence presented explained that how we breathe either directly reinforces stressful patterns or reduces and eliminates them.
What we observe in life is that most people allow their breath to follow whatever habit pattern they have formed during their life. Unfortunately, many people by the way they breathe create and maintain a state of constant stress in their bodies.
By becoming conscious of how we breathe and then making the necessary corrections to utilise the breath properly, can produce lasting and sometimes rather profound changes.
The tendency for many people is to breath in their upper chest area. Using the chest muscles to open the rib cage (thoracic breathing) has actually been shown to turn on the stress producing part of the nervous system. Continue to breathe with the upper chest, and the body and mind maintain a constant state of anxiety increasing the harmful effects of stress.
However, if the breathing pattern were to be changed with the focus on deep belly (diaphragmatic) breathing so that the bottom part of the lungs were able to expand and be filled with air, then the message the nervous receives is one of relaxation and calm. So the quieting part of our nervous system is stimulated counteracting the negative effects of stress.
There is another aspect of breathing that is also important for the relief of stress. It requires that the inhale and exhale move in an even, uninterrupted flow of breath. This pattern of breathing has scientifically been shown to restore and maintain balance of the nervous system. Stress is not possible under these conditions.
Whenever there is a pause in your breathing your thoughts change and it is impossible to concentrate. The mind becomes agitated and stress ensues.
When you start to feel stress building in your body and one or more stressors are evident to you, one can consciously make the inhalation and exhalation flow a deep pattern in an even rhythm and alleviate the stressful state.