Original post from Mental Toughness Partners


USING BREATHING TO DEFUSE YOUR ADRENALIN STRESS – A SIMPLE STEP BY STEP APPROACH

Adrenalin, your body’s highly effective stress hormone can be distressing and disorientating as it floods your system and prepares you to “fight or flight” in response to a threatening or dangerous situation. In so doing it quickly disables your high level thinking, your analysis, processing, decision making abilities, at precisely the time you need them most to respond rationally and calmly.  An effective way to manage stress, reduce the effects of the adrenalin rush and quickly return to feeling normal is to develop your deep breathing through an “intentional breathing” routine. This breathing exercise is slightly different from other deep breathing exercises because the emphasis is to allow the natural flow of the breath by inhaling from the top down and exhaling from the bottom up.

The following Intentional Breathing Routine is provided by B Grace Bullock PhD from the excellent Mindful website www.mindful.org

How to Practice Intentional Breathing to Manage Stress

  1. Sit comfortably and observe your natural breath. Start by finding a comfortable position like sitting upright in a chair or lying on your back. Begin to observe your breath just as it is. Notice where the breath flows – upper chest, lower belly, front, back, or sides. As you do, try to avoid placing a judgment on how you are breathing or attaching a story to it. Just as if you were a scientist studying a cell under a microscope, see if you can examine all of the details of your breath one at a time and make mental notes of them. Observe how you are breathing just as you are. It’s an interesting exercise. You may already notice that the act of observing your breath slows down your respiration rate.
  2. Place your hands on your chest and belly. Place your right hand on your breastbone (sternum) in the center of your chest. Place your left hand so that your thumb is below your navel. Continue to breathe normally and observe whether you are breathing more into your right hand or left hand. See if you can resist the urge to change your breath or make it deeper. Breathe as normally as you can and observe how it is to be in your body, breathing normally. How does it feel? What do you notice? Continue for at least 10 breaths.
  3. Breathe into your chest. Try breathing just into your right hand that is resting in the middle of your upper chest. Without forcing the breath, see how it feels to breathe into the space below your right hand. What do you notice? Can you slow your inhalation or is that difficult or uncomfortable? Just see what happens. Keep observing for 10–20 breaths. After 10–20 breaths, take a few deep inhalations and exhalations and resume breathing normally for a minute or so. Begin to observe your breath just as it is. Notice where the breath flows – upper chest, lower belly, front, back, or sides. As you do, try to avoid placing a judgment on how you are breathing or attaching a story to it.
  4. Breathe into your lower lungs. Next, try breathing just into your left hand that is resting on your abdomen. Without forcing the breath, see how it feels to breathe into the space below your left hand. What do you notice? Can you slow your inhalation or is that difficult or uncomfortable? Just see what happens. Keep observing for 10–20 breaths. After 10–20 breaths, take a few deep inhalations and exhalations and resume breathing normally for a minute or so.
  5. Take half breaths into your chest and then your lower lungs. Now, try breathing half of your inhalation into your right hand, pause for a second or two,  and then breathe the remainder into the space below your left hand and pause. Then exhale from the bottom up, first releasing the air below your left hand, then allowing the exhalation to continue from below your left hand to below your right hand, traveling up and out either through your nose or mouth. Continue to your next inhalation, first into the area beneath your right hand and then into the area beneath your left hand, then exhale from the bottom up. Can you slow your inhalation or is that difficult or uncomfortable? How does it feel? What do you notice? Keep observing for 10–20 breaths. After 10–20 breaths, take a few deep inhalations and exhalations and resume breathing normally for a minute or so.
  6. Take full breaths. Finally, try breathing deeply and fully from top to bottom as you inhale and bottom to top as you exhale, without pausing. If possible, see if you can slow the exhalation so that it is longer than the inhalation. If you like, you can count 1, 2, 3, and so on to see which is longer: your inhalation or your exhalation. After 10–20 breaths, take a few big deep inhalations and exhalations and resume breathing normally for a minute or so.
  7. Notice how you feel. Was the exercise simple or difficult? Did breathing slowly and fully seem usual to you? How do you feel physically? Emotionally? Energetically? If you like, write down your experience.

Back to me and in my experience this routine does take practice but once mastered it does provide the circuit breaker needed to override the adrenalin rush and manage stress. It needs adaptation to be practical in some situations but even the knowledge that I can respond through breathing helps me fight the adrenalin rush and manage stress.


 

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