Stress is part of our life. We all have to live with it and manage it. But there is a tool we all have access to which we forget: breathing.
It might sound simple, but when done properly, breathing can make the difference between panic and resilience. Research shows that different emotions are associated with different forms of breathing. For example, when you feel anxious or angry, your breathing becomes irregular, short, and fast. When you feel joy or relaxation, your breathing will be regular, deep, and slow. And believe it or not, when you follow breathing patterns associated with different emotions, you begin to feel those corresponding emotions.
So next time you’re feeling stress start to bubble up, try changing the ratio of your inhale to exhale. When you inhale, your heart rate speeds up. When you exhale, it slows down. Take a few minutes and breathe in for a count of four and out for a count of eight — this will calm your nervous system and keep stress at bay. By tweaking your breathing, you’ll start to feel better.