It sounds incredibly simple, too obvious almost. Yet the breath is one of the most powerful tools we have at our disposal.
As humans, we can survive days without food or water, but, without air, a matter of minutes. It truly is a life source for us. So, it is not surprising to learn we can use it to our advantage during times of anxiety and stress.
When we experience anxiety our bodies go into what is called the fight-or-flight response. This is something we have learned and adapted to over many millions of years, starting during pre-historic times when stress often actually resulted in a physical fight for our lives. However, in modern society when we feel anxiety or stress it is rarely caused by an impending fight for survival, yet our bodies, in their infinite wisdom do not know this. In response to these feelings of stress, our bodies increase our heart rate, blood pressure and breathing rate flooding us with oxygen and energy and preparing us for a fight or the ability to run away from danger, fast.
But today, the fight-or-flight response can be triggered by almost anything that we find uncomfortable; we have had a difficult conversation, we are stressed, busy or anxious about a situation, we are overwhelmed or we are worried about what someone thinks of us. These are all very human responses but they do not need us to prepare for a fight.
When we learn breathing exercises like the three-part-breath we can actually teach our bodies not to react to anxiety-provoking situations in the way our ancestors needed us to. Breathing in this way utilises our full lung capacity and reduces the amount of oxygen in our bodies. As a result, the parasympathetic nervous system is activated and we feel calmer and more grounded.
The below video is a short tutorial that shows you how to practice the three-part-breath. And, what’s even better, the more you practice the more your body will learn to breathe in this way naturally.
I recommend starting with 5 rounds and building it up to 10, but do what feels most comfortable for you. Some say it is easier to do it for the first time lying down but if you can’t sitting upright in a comfortable position is ok too.
Since learning this breath technique I can honestly say I use it all the time; if I can’t get to sleep, during the day, when I am driving, if something is worrying me if I have to do a presentation or have a difficult conversation with someone. It instantly brings me back into my body, lowers my heart rate and calms me down.
I hope it does the same for you too.