Are you holding your breath?

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Photo by Amy Treasure on Unsplash

Have you ever found yourself holding your breath when you are feeling overwhelmed or frustrated?

When we are stressed, our breathing becomes short and shallow, and we may hold our breath. This reinforces our “fight or flight” stress response. When we come back to our breath and take slow, steady breaths, we trigger our body’s parasympathetic nervous system, and we “rest and digest.” It signals our bodies that it’s okay to calm down and relax.

Let’s face it, when you’re in the moment, completely overwhelmed and stressed, it’s hard to think about anything else. But practicing a simple breathing technique can act as a reset.

Next time you catch yourself holding your breath or feeling overwhelmed, try simply bringing your awareness to the sensations your breath creates as it moves in and out of your body.

You can also try the following practice:

  • Inhale slowly for the count of 4
  • Exhale slowly for the count of 8
  • Notice the space in between the inhalation and exhalation
  • Repeat until you begin to calm down

Breathing happens so naturally it’s something we don’t even think about. How about you? Do you ever catch yourself holding your breath?