Lisa Whiteman | Jan 25, 2020 | 0
BEing Blog 20 – BE Prepared for Action – Episode 3
Serious situations call for serious action. We can’t afford to leave anything to chance. When an emergency demands our full attention and focus the biological impact this has on us is huge! To survive and even thrive under these pressure cooker situations requires a high level of self-awareness and a few well practised systems (habits) to get us through. If we use these systems every day, when things are chugging along at the usual pace of hectic, then when we need to up the ante, the skills are there and can be implemented without disrupting the flow of the situation at hand.
Over my next few blogs I am going to chat about my four cornerstone, ‘Be Prepared for Action’ strategies.
The third action strategy is Breathing
There is so much research and literature on the importance of breathing – outside of the obvious. I am going to focus on one stress management strategy the 4-7-8 breath. This is simply a timing managed breathing pattern – breathe in for 4 secs – hold for 7 seconds and out for 8 seconds. Repeat the sequence three times and in less than a minute the effects of a calmer system are clear.
Using slow rhythmic breathing whenever you lack focus, feel jittery or under pressure, and whenever anything upsetting happens – before you react – provides space, and settles the nervous system so we are able to have a far more rational (thinking/left brain) response to the situation. Use it whenever you are aware of internal tension or stress.
There is evidence to suggest that deep breathing techniques have a positive impact on a person’s anxiety and stress levels.1,2
Some of the health benefits of deep breathing techniques, particularly breathing from the diaphragm include:
- decreased fatigue
- reduced anxiety
- better stress management
- reduced hypertension
- reduced aggressive behaviour
- and improved migraine symptoms.
Studies suggest that 6 weeks of practicing rhythmic breathing, focusing on controlling breath movement, has a positive effect on a person’s heart rate variability, which correlates with stress, and also improves cognition.
- Xiao Ma et al. The Effect of Diaphragmatic Breathing on Attention, Negative Affect and Stress in Healthy Adults Front Psychol. 2017; 8: 874.
- Marc A. Russo, Danielle M. Santarelli, and Dean O’Rourke The physiological effects of slow breathing in the healthy human Breathe (Sheff). 2017 Dec; 13(4): 298–309.