The Power of Breathwork for Stress Management
During high-pressure moments and high-stress situations, attempting to control your mind or using your thoughts to change how we feel often proves futile. When did telling yourself to “calm down” actually work?
Instead, here’s a tool you might not be tapping into yet – using your body to help you manage stress. One of the most effective methods to tap into your mental resilience and bounce back from stress is breathwork.
The Breathwork Advantage
When you encounter stress, your body's autonomic nervous system is activated, leading to the "fight or flight" response. However, deliberate and intentional breathwork can engage the parasympathetic nervous system, promoting the "rest and digest" response. This shift in your physiological state can effectively reduce stress and anxiety.
A Powerful Tool: Emotion Regulation
Studies have shown that each of our emotions corresponds to a distinct breathing pattern – our emotions are automatically influencing the way we breathe. More importantly, the studies also revealed that the reverse is possible – deliberate breathing can influence our emotional state. For example, in a study involving stressed executives in a high-pressure decision-making situation, getting them to follow simple breathwork instructions proved effective in reducing their anxiety levels. Essentially, we have the ability to change how we feel by harnessing the power of our breath.
Consistency Is Key
Breathwork does not only provide immediate effects; it offers lasting benefits. Research shows regular breathwork normalises the level of cortisol (the stress hormone) in the long run. Outside of doing breathwork for a specific situation (i.e. a stressful meeting or interaction), it’s recommended that you make breathwork a habit for greater impact. Integrate it effortlessly into your daily routine, whether it's at the start of your day, during your commute, or part of your bedtime ritual.
Curious About Breathwork?
There are various breathwork techniques out there, each with its advantages, some of which include: calming the nervous system, anxiety and stress management, and increasing focus.
Here, we’ll step you through 2 powerful yet simple techniques to help you get started:
Alternate Nostril Breathing.
Technique: Cyclic Sighing
This simple breathwork is proven to reduce anxiety and stress quickly.
Inhale through your nose.
When you've comfortably filled your lungs, take a second, deeper sip of air to expand your lungs as much as possible.
Then slowly exhale all the air through your mouth.
Repeat this for about 2-5 minutes.
Technique: Alternate Nostril Breathing
This breathwork can have a positive effect on your wellbeing by easing stress and anxiety.
With your right hand: Place the index and middle finger between the eyebrows.Place the thumb on the right nostril and the ring finger on the left nostril – lightly touching.*
Close the right nostril (with the thumb). Take a deep inhale through the left nostril. Close the left nostril (with the ring finger) and open the thumb to exhale fully through the right nostril.
Take a deep inhale through the right nostril. Close the right nostril (with the thumb) and open the ring finger to exhale fully through your left nostril.
Repeat the steps. Do this for 10 rounds, or for 2-5 minutes.
*You can rest your left hand on your lap with your palms facing up.
Your breath is your anchor in times of stress. If you’re curious to delve deeper into the world of breathwork and stress management, contact us to find out more.