Breath awareness is an integral part of releasing stress and anxiety.
When we feel anxious, panicky, or even unconsciously stressed, we tend to take short breaths (called shallow breathing or chest breathing). As a result, our body doesn’t receive enough oxygen, which limits blood flow to important organs and creates tension in our muscles and joints.
This is a physiological reaction to perceived external danger, so when we continuously take shallow breaths we are actually sending signals to our body that we are under threat.
Anything from being stuck in a traffic jam or standing in a long queue, to feeling claustrophobic in a crowded space or even remembering a past traumatic event, can make us anxious and put us into stress mode. Our minds can perceive these situations as threatening/stressful and our body reacts to our thought patterns.
It is imperative to start becoming aware of when we are putting ourselves into stress mode, as these are usually subconscious reactions.
When we breathe full, deep breaths using the full capacity of our lungs, not only are we nourishing our cells with more oxygen, but we are sending calming signals to our body. In the same way that stressful thoughts in our subconscious mind can create negative changes in our physical body, initiating conscious changes (breathing) in our body can create a calmer state of mind.
Stressful thoughts = shallow breath & tightness in muscles
Deep, full breaths = calmer mind + calmer body
To explain the intrinsic connection between the body and mind, Dr. James Gordon, Director and Founder, Center for Mind-Body Medicine, says : “the brain and peripheral nervous system, the endocrine and immune systems, and indeed, all the organs of our body and all the emotional responses we have, share a common chemical language and are constantly communicating with one another.”
There are many breathing techniques and exercises that we can use to release stress from our body & mind. The first step, as always, is to be mindful, to become aware. Only then can we pause and step back before we can breathe our way to a sense of calm and to new perspectives.
“Correct and conscious breath is the first and most simple step toward releasing stress and anxiety.”
How would you like to learn to let go of stress and anxiety from your mind and body?
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