Breathe Through It
The Problem: Anxiety
"When you're anxious, you limit your breaths," says Dr James Gordon, author of Unstuck: Your Guide to the Seven-Stage Journey out of Depression
. "And when you confine your breaths to your chest instead of using your diaphragm, you increase the anxiety."
The key to chilling out lies in calming your sympathetic nervous system (your body's fight-or-flight engine, which releases adrenaline and stress hormones such as cortisol) and triggering your parasympathetic nervous system, which controls your rest and digest functions and helps your muscles (and your mind) unwind.
Try This: The Soft-Belly Technique
Most people take about 15 breaths per minute, but when you're fretting, you should aim for six or seven slow, deep ones. Gordon suggests a technique that involves inhaling through the nose and exhaling through the mouth, while keeping your stomach relaxed. To help yourself focus, slowly say the word soft in your head while inhaling, and speak the word belly as you breathe out. This technique can stimulate your vagus nerve, a central part of the parasympathetic nervous system, which runs through your abdomen and chest and back to your brain stem.
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