01/25/2022 by Dr. Goldi Jacques-Maynes
Stop the Damaging Stress Cycle with Belly Breathing
Life is stressful.
These days it seems we are constantly bombarded with crises to handle and fires to put out. It can often seem like there are just not enough hours — or energy — to manage it all.
We’re all feeling more uncertain at this moment in history. With the hit of the pandemic and 24-hour news cycle, the world seems more unsafe, and more frightening, than it used to.
The neck, back, or shoulder pain we may be feeling from just working and managing our lives can add fatigue and tension. It's even more stressful when you've got an injury.
There may be relationship demands: sometimes coming from our jobs, sometimes from our kids, our spouses, or our parents. We can often feel pressure from all of these relationship stressors at the same time.
We may be feeling financial stress as prices keep going up, and our go-tos for managing life are becoming less available.
That’s a lot of stress to process, and it’s damaging our health.
If we don’t process stress in a healthy way, that stress stays stuck in our bodies. If we continually fail to complete the stress response cycle, we run the risk of serious health conditions, like:
- Cardiovascular disease
- Gastrointestinal problems
- Neck, shoulder, and back pain
Stress can be released in many ways, but the easiest technique to access is Belly Breathing.
Calm your nervous system immediately with Belly Breathing.
Belly Breathing is an effective technique for relieving anxiety, stress, pain or tension.
Deep, slow breaths downregulate the stress response — especially when the exhalation is long, slow, and goes all the way to the end of your breath. It’s a great way to siphon off a little pressure to get you thru a difficult situation.
It often just takes 1-3 deep belly breaths to complete the stress response cycle.
Taking a brief mindful moment to belly breathe when something stressful comes at you, or you feel anxious or tense will:
- Calm down your Nervous System
- Release tension in your body
- Siphon off a little pressure
- Help you feel less stress
- Help you sleep better
- Help you feel happier
- Give you pause to respond, rather than react
- Promote your physical and mental health
If you start integrating Belly Breathing into your life, you’ll begin to feel a shift in your stress levels. You'll begin to connect to a sense of calm and peaceful wellness. Wouldn't it feel great to feel more calm and peaceful?
How to Belly Breathe
- Lay on your back with your knees bent or supported by a pillow. You may also sit if you prefer.
- Close your eyes and place your hands on your belly.
- Take three deep breaths in and out, each time trying to raise your hands towards the sky by filling your belly with air. Think about pressing your back into the bed/floor by filling up your entire abdomen with breath.
- Once you can breath through your belly, try taking in a breath for two seconds and exhaling for four seconds.
- Do this a few times and try extending the intake of breath for three seconds and the exhalation to six seconds.
- Keep breathing slow and steady.