Breathe to Relieve Stress: How A Simple Breathing Technique Can Reduce Effects of Your ‘Fight or Flight’ Response

woman breathing to Relieve Stress

Everyday life can be hectic, and many of us live stressful lives which can have negative consequences on our Nervous System and therefore our health. Proper breathing techniques can help you reduce stress and manage your hectic daily routine, and even benefit your overall health. Here is how that can happen and one useful breathing technique to help lower your stress levels.

If you breathe to relieve stress, you can help your body manage your hectic daily routine; benefiting your overall health. Here is how that can happen and one useful breathing technique to help lower your stress levels.

Your Nervous System

Your Nervous System is divided into two categories: the Sympathetic Nervous System and the Parasympathetic Nervous System. Each side of your Nervous System has different effects on your stress.

The Sympathetic Nervous system is your response to perceived threats and is also known as your “fight or flight” response. When your Sympathetic Nervous System is turned on your heart rate can increase and blood pressure can begin to rise. If your Sympathetic Nervous System is left in this state too long it can have detrimental effects on your body.

On the other side of your Nervous System is your Parasympathetic Nervous System. This Nervous System works in contrast and is known as the “rest and recover” response. When your Parasympathetic Nervous System turns on, your heart rate starts to decrease and your blood pressure starts to lower. These two components of your Nervous System work in concert with each other, therefore, when one system turns up, the other will be turned down.

Ideally, we want our Parasympathetic Nervous System turned on most of the time, and if our body perceives a threat our Sympathetic Nervous System only turns on momentarily. Once the threat is eliminated, the “rest and recover” response takes over again. The problem is, most of us live in “fight or flight” overdrive because we have a lot of daily stressors such as traffic, finances, poor health, etc.  These factors combined with what many people consume in their diets such as coffee, energy drinks, and sugars do not allow our bodies to calm down and return to the “rest and recover” mode.

Box Breathing

One very effective and efficient way to combat your “fight or flight” overdrive is to do a simple breathing exercise called “Box Breathing”. Box Breathing is a Breathe to Relieve Stress technique that can stimulate the parasympathetic nervous system and calm you down. Here are some simple steps to start box breathing:

  1. Breathe in for a count of 4 seconds
  2. Hold your breath for a count of 4 seconds
  3. Exhale for a count of 4 seconds
  4. Hold your breath at the bottom of your exhale for 4 seconds
  5. Repeat

Do your best to do this for five minutes and turn up the volume on your “rest and recover” system!