USING YOUR BODY TO CONTROL YOUR MIND!
Breathing is one of the most powerful tools at your disposal for changing your emotional state and so with levels of stress now becoming more pandemic than ever, it makes sense to learn how to breath in a way that best serves your wellbeing.
Our bodies are amazing and mostly breathing on autopilot, so thankfully we rarely have to think about it. In fact we hardly even notice our respiratory system unless we are experiencing extremes like feeling out of breath after exercise or perhaps shortness of breath when feeling anxious.
Most of us are oblivious to the affects our thoughts have on our breathing as well. Change your thoughts, and you create different feelings, which your body responds to accordingly!
When you become more aware of your breathing, you can learn to control it, and in doing so dramatically reduce your stress levels and improve your total health.
Allowing harmful, stressful thoughts to run amok forces your body to stay locked into fight or flight and the Sympathetic Nervous System. This happens because it simply has no choice but to follow the instructions you give it.
The mind and body are inextricably linked like the engine and the bodywork of a car. Your mind (the engine) can move the vehicle (your body) in any direction it chooses. Equally that vehicle can change the direction of the mind by steering it where it wants to go!
That mind body connection works both ways because we are coded for survival.
When we start to feel anxious or stressed our breathing is short and rapid, and our cortisol levels rise (stress hormone) as if the body is sensing life threating danger!
It’s the old survival mode kicking in. There may not be a sabre-tooth tiger, but all our energy is now being used, as if there were.
Today’s situation with Covid 19 has put us all into a new state of fear, and whether you are feeling it strongly or not, it is still there. Maybe you are responding with more sleep, or more eating or maybe the complete opposite, and finding yourself unable to do either very well.
Isolation, restrictions, money worries, frustrations, uncertainties, loss of family connections, and fear of disease are all putting a strain on our bodily systems and forcing our adrenals to run on overdrive.
The good news is that you can change your thoughts when you learn to recognise them (see our previous blog on the RASA Rule) and you can put yourself back into Parasympathetic Nervous System of REST and DIGEST by using very powerful breathing techniques.
As soon as you put yourself back in the driving seat of the autonomic nervous system, your heart rate levels out, your blood pressure levels drop, and you change the chemical balance of your body to produce happy hormones!
A powerful breathing technique that works and is simple to use is SQUARE BREATHING, also known as BOX BREATHING!
You will bring your body back to REST and DIGEST and into the Parasympathetic Nervous System just by following this process!
You can do this anywhere, sitting or standing. Just go with the situation you find yourself in and ensure your torso is open and upright. And if you are new to this type of breathing, practice it before you need it, so that you become more familiar with the process.
HOW TO DO SQUARE BREATHING:
If possible, sit in a chair with your back supported, spine straight and both of your feet on the floor. Feel yourself supported and grounded.
Begin by slowly exhaling all of your air out.
Then, gently inhale through your nose to a slow count of 4.
Hold at the top of the breath for a count of 4.
Then gently exhale through your mouth for a count of 4.
At the bottom of the breath, pause and hold for the count of 4.
REPEAT x 10
Use this YouTube video to get you into the rhythm of Square Breathing.
WHEN TO DO SQUARE BREATHING:
· Need to calm down
· Feeling overwhelmed
· Trouble Sleeping
· Stressed about anything
· Feel you are overreacting
“Breathing in, I calm my body. Breathing out I smile. Dwelling in the present moment, I know this is a wonderful moment.” Thich Nhat Hanh