The relaxation response is the opposition to the stress response.
Controllable V'S Uncontrollable.
When practised regularly, this deep breathing exercise is not only beneficial to your short-term health but your long-term also. It provides a variety of health benefits:
Enables you to become more rational, rather than, irrational, when stressed
Stimulates the lymphatic system (Detoxifies the body)
Lowers blood pressure
Enables your brain to release endorphins, which are chemicals that have a natural calming effect within your body and senses
It 'could' become, a learnt coping mechanism, enabling you to remain calm within stressful situations without even trying. Of which, would have a wide range of positive effects upon you, both consciously and unconsciously
The Stress Response
During times of stress and/or anxiety, your body automatically goes into something called a 'stress response,' a part of the survival system that you were born with. However, various adaptions would have been made throughout your years since childhood, depending upon individual learnt behaviours and coping mechanisms. The stress response impacts upon your bodies physical functioning, where; Muscles tense, breathing becomes shallow and rapid, and your heart rate increases.
The Relaxation Response
By purposefully taking slow deep breaths, immediately creates a sense of control. Therefore, the more that it is practised, the quicker you will find you destress and relax. You will find that: Your breathing becomes deeper and slower, your heart rate decreases, muscles relax from being relieved from tension, and your stresses and anxieties will fade away. By being in control, holding a positive, fast, and effective response to your initial stress response, is what will have a great impact on the long-term benefits, as well as the short-term.
There is a wide range of deep breathing instructions, but, this technique is what I was taught during a training course and one of which has worked it's magic for me. More so, one that I continued to teach my clients, having had huge success with each one of them.
So, before starting...
Sit back in a chair, or lie down on your sofa or bed, whichever you'll be most comfortable.
Close your eyes (If you are not able to for whatever reason, it's OK, it still works.)
Step 1: Inhale
Breathe slowly in through your nose for 5 seconds.
Step 2: Pause
Hold your breath, keeping the air in your lungs, for 4 seconds.
Step 3: Exhale
Breathe out slowly through your mouth for 7 seconds.
(Tip: Pucker your lips to slow down your exhalation.)
Step 4: Repeat
Practice, at this pace, for roughly 2 minutes (or every 5 rounds.)
Step 5: Extend
Once you feel comfortable with this pace, increase the inhale and exhale steps by 1 second at a time.
* If you find that the length of times stated are too long, or too short, to start with, simply adapt them to your capability, which feels natural and comfortable.
* Ensure that your breathing is slowed down. It is a very common mistake, when starting this exercise, that individuals find they breathe too fast, especially when stressed.
* Be sure to remain focused on your counting of time. This serves a second positive purpose that it helps your mind to stay focused on the exercise, rather than wandering off to the stressful situation in question.
If you realise that your mind has wandered, simply return to where you were with the exercise.
The amount of time required practising this technique, depends on what your desired outcome is.
Shortest scenario: To be able to 'catch a moment', suggesting that you don't have much time available, even a few deep breathes will be effective here. Find a space, alone, and use the minutes you have available to you before going back to the situation in question, being more mindful of your responses.
Longest scenario: To be able to use as a tool to help you get to sleep, or, wanting to be present with yourself when able to enjoy quiet time to relax. In this case, repeat the above steps for up to 30-minutes.
Any amount of time in-between these 2 scenarios will be invaluable.
By using this deep breathing technique 2-3 times a day, will have a substantial positive impact upon you, your life, and those close around you.
Enable your brain to release endorphins, which are chemicals that have a natural calming effect.
Therefore, the more this technique becomes consistent within your daily living, would likely result in the long-term benefit of an increased amount taken before your stress response is stimulated.