113: Just take a Deep Breath

breathe outThe last thing I want to hear when I’m in the middle of an emotional maelstrom is ‘just take a deep breath’. Firstly I would rather be in the turbulent whirlwind of emotion, enjoying the breathless drama of it all and secondly it’s not technically correct advice.

Breathing is the only autonomous system of our body that we can also control. When we breath in we stimulate the Sympathetic Nervous System, (the part of us that prepares us for running or fighting), when we breath out we stimulate the Parasympathetic Nervous System, ( the part of us that is responsible for calming us down). So it would make sense then that to take a deep breath is just going to fire us up more. What we should be doing is taking a deep exhale.

Here’s how.

Sit comfortably and breath in for the count of say three or four, now breath out for the count of four or five.

Breath in for the count of four and breath out for the count of six

Breath in for the count of four and breath out for the count of seven. Just keep testing the water. There are no hard and fast rules but what you are aiming for is double the count on the exhale. So if your inhale is 5 counts then your exhale should be 10 counts.

Try this for at least 5 minutes.

Practice for today: When we double our exhales we can put ourselves into a state of parasympathetic response. We can do this before the storm hits so when it does, our emotional  knee jerk reactions are tamed.

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