One of the most useful techniques to apply to calm down when you are feeling anxious and stressed is focused deep breathing. The breath pattern you will learn this week helps to turn up the body’s parasympathetic nervous system, that branch of the autonomic nervous system known as the ‘rest and digest’ system. Generally, it is sedating to the nervous system, and induces states of relaxation, calm and well-being. It helps to extinguish the body’s fight or flight response and bring you back into a more balanced state of mind. The general pattern of relaxation breathing is to extend the length of the exhalation, in relation to the inhalation. For example, instead of 4:4 (in:out), you could apply a 4:6 pattern.
The effect can be enhanced by adding a pause after the exhalation. The pattern we will practice is 3:6:3 (in: out: pause). If this pattern feels challenging, then lower the counts to 2:3:2. It defeats the goal of relaxation if you are struggling to get the counts. The breath pattern needs to be within easy reach of your abilities in order to assure its effectiveness.