Relaxation Breathing Technique
Description: In this episode, Melissa and Maribeth (from ADD Professionals) describe the proper technique to performing a breathing exercise in moments of stress.
One of the best ways to lower anxiety and overwhelm is through relaxation breathing. This technique has been around for thousands of years because, research has shown, when done regularly, it can lower general anxiety as well as some medications. Lowering your anxiety will help you calm your body down, gain control of that anxious overwhelming feeling, and allow the logical part of your brain, your pre-frontal cortex, to take control again. Here’s the basic “how to”.
First of all, it is important to note that, when we become overwhelmed or anxious, that pesky amygdale, the part of our brain that senses threat, has over reacted to a real or imagined threat, flooded our system with adrenalin and shut down our prefrontal cortex.
When this happens, we also start to breath shallowly, taking faster quicker breaths. When we do this we forget to exhale completely, and so poisonous CO2 gets stuck in our lungs and in our brain. We become CO2 toxic!
If you want to feel what that feels like, just hold your breath. It’s awful!
The good news is, that in just two minutes, you can reverse the chemistry in your brain from CO2 toxic to oxygen rich! CO2 makes us more anxious! Oxygen causes us to relax! AHHHH!
For this exercise you need to be in a comfortable position. You can be in a relaxing chair, your bed or the couch, in a meeting sitting quietly – any place you can relax. You can even do it while driving – it is great for preventing road rage - just keep your eyes on the road! Here we go!
1) Breathe in slowly, through your nose (not your mouth) for a count of 4.
2) Hold your breath for a count of 4 (This shoots that oxygen out to your body faster).
3) Exhale through pursed lips – like when you whistle – for a count of 8 - breathe it ALL out!
4) Do this as many times as you can. Two to three times is good. 10 times is better!
5) Do this when you are anxious. But also do it several times a day to reduce your overall anxiety level.
While you are exhaling, you can imagine all of the anxiety leaving your body. You can pair this exhale with guided imagery, imagining your favorite tropical beach – the waves – the ocean breeze……each time relaxing more and more. Each count should be about one second long. With each long exhale, you leave more room for the next big breath of relaxing oxygen