Learn to Breathe: it lowers stress, boosts health, and helps you become more “present” which will help you make more mindful choices about everything from what you eat to how you work.
Yes, it sounds simple, but it really works. When we become stressed, the sympathetic nervous system is activated (the good old fight or flight response), which was helpful back in the days of eluding saber toothed tigers, but in this century it’s more just harmful to the body-brain complex. When we’re stressed, breath shortens and quickens, heartrate
accelerates, and a series of other harmful physiological responses occur including a correlation to junkfood cravings and poor eating choices. The bottom line is, you can’t do your best strategic thinking in this state and prolonged experience can actually decrease the body’s immunity and put you at risk for a host of health issues. The simple act of taking several long, slow, deep breaths brings you out of that fight or flight response and calms your brain.
You can also try one of these yoga breathwork practices for anxiety:
Breathe in for a count of 4 and extend the exhale for a count of 5, 6, or 7…even 8. (Just make sure you aren’t getting anxious about not having enough air. Stick to a lower-count exhale at first.) OR make a “mudra” with your right hand: Thumb over your right nostril, two middle fingers over your left nostril. Block the right nostril with your thumb and breathe in ONLY through the left nostril for a count of 4. Block the left and exhale only out just the right for an extended count of 5, 6, or 7. Repeat for 10 rounds. This stimulates your parasympathetic nervous system
and triggers the relax-rest-digest response.
- Sara DiVello , Registered Yoga Teacher, certified with the Yoga Alliance (the national organization that certifies teachers that have met their requirements and completed at least 200 hours of training