Updated: May 31
The breath is intrinsic to life, yet we tend not to be aware of this automatic process keeping us alive. When we breathe deeply and consciously, the breath can be a powerful alley calming anxiety, by relaxing the mind and body.
How does this work?
The Vagus Nerve is associated with both the Parasympathetic Nervous System (PNS) and the Sympathetic Nervous System (SNS). The SNS is linked to our fight, flight or freeze response which activates cortisol and adrenaline into the body which may lead to inflammation and stress. The PNS links to our ‘rest and digest’ mode where our blood pressure and heart rate is lower; our immune system functions better and our breath is slower.
When we consciously lengthen and deepen our breathing, we activate the Vagus Nerve which ‘switches on’ the PNS.
Repeat the following for a few minutes;
Notice your breath and breathe deeper and longer than usual without forcing it
Follow your ‘in’ breath (noticing sensations e.g. air through nostrils, lungs filling, belly rising)
Follow your ‘out’ breath (noticing sensations e.g. the sound, the sense of ‘letting go’ and relaxing)
TIP - If you find yourself getting caught up in your thinking, gently return your attention to your breath.