Simple breathing technique to help you beat stress

Why every breath you take is important

This Breathing Technique Will Help You Beat Stress
With our jam-packed lives, we can sometimes forget to stop and catch our breath.

Performance enhancement coach Ed Harrold wants us to learn why it's important to breathe properly. Here, he demonstrates a breathing technique that can help reduce stress.

He says most people are shallow breathers, or mouth breathers. But what we need to do is optimise our nasal breathing.

When we are breathing through the nose, our abdominal diaphragm muscle, which is the primary muscle that pulls air into our lungs, presses down on our gastrointestinal organs and our lower back and gives us better posture and improves digestion.

He says it's a very relaxing inhale, unlike the mouth inhale which is very rapid and shallow and stimulates heart rate.

Slow breathing

Harrold also says that if we slow our nasal breathing down, we stabilise the cerebral activity in our brains. This in turn slows down our autonomic nervous system.

The autonomic nervous system is a division of the peripheral nervous system that influences the function of internal organs. It regulates bodily functions such as the heart rate, digestion and respiratory rate.

It has two branches: it controls the fight-or-flight response (associated with stress) and the freeze-and-dissociate response (associated with rest and relaxation.)

The slow nasal deep breathing technique he describes helps to re-set the autonomic nervous system from the fight-or-flight response, which can increase adrenalin and heart rate, to the freeze-and-dissociate response, which can reduce heart rate and increase serotonin - the neurotransmitter associated with feelings of well-being and happiness.