Breathing is part of the autonomic nervous system (ANS) and consists of two main components, the sympathetic and parasympathetic systems. The sympathetic system revs the body up and controls the “fight-or-flight” reaction, whereas the parasympathetic system calms the body down by decreasing the heart rate.
When we feel angry, scared, or emotional, our breathing can become erratic and amplifies the sympathetic system, so controlling the breath through the parasympathetic system is essential to calming the mind and body.
Fortunately, breathing therapies can help control and calm the mind and body, and all you need is a few minutes a day.
There are many breathing control techniques to help slow the breath and relax the body, some of which include:
- Pursed Lip Breathing - This highly effective technique directly taps into the parasympathetic system by creating a longer exhalation of the breath.
- Start by keeping the mouth closed and inhaling slowly through the nose for two counts.
- Purse your lips as if you are about to whistle and slowly exhale through the pursed lips for a count of four.
Breath Focus Technique
This technique involves visualization of focus words or phrases such as relax, peace or let go.
- Breath Focus Technique - This technique involves visualization of focus words or phrases such as relax, peace or let go.
- Start with normal breathing while paying close attention to the breath as it comes in and out of the body.
- Begin using the focus word or phrase and visualize it coming into your body on the inhalation.
- On the exhalation, imagine releasing any negative terms that are affecting you, such as stress or anger.