When you are feeling anxious, stressed or over excited, breathing is a simple way to relax your system. The sympathetic nervous system (SNS) also known as the 'fight or flight' system, is responsible for sending blood to our muscles, increasing our heart rate, decreasing food digestion (as this is not vital whilst you are stressed) and increasing lung function. The SNS kicks in when we are threatened. This threat in old days would have been a being attacked by tiger or lion. These days 'threats' are more commonly work stress, personal life situations, pressure we put on ourselves, family stress and anxiety. These all 'turn on' our sympathetic nervous system as our body feels threatened.
To calm our system down there are a few simple tricks which can help you relax and unwind.
The diaphragm is a muscle attached to the lower ribs that moves during breathing, increasing the amount of oxygen able to get into the lungs. By slowing our breathing rate and using our diaphragm we can stimulate our parasympathetic nervous system (PNS). This is one of the only ways we can consciously stimulate this system. The PNS is responisble for the 'rest & digest' phase.
To achieve this type of breathing place one hand on your tummy and the other on your chest. As you breathe in your tummy should inflate, creating 60% of the movement. The remaining 40% of the movement comes from your chest elevating. When breathing out, your tummy should deflate, becoming flat and your chest relaxes.
Inhale (breathe in) for 10 counts, hold for 10 counts and exhale (breathe out) for a further 10counts.
This is not just used on children, it is very effective for adults too. Remove your self from a situation. Go for a walk, go into another room, leave your computer or phone. If it is a work problem or situation by leaving it and coming back with a clear mind you will achieve a better result.
Sitting at your desk how much 'clutter' is on your desk? These are distractions and reminders of your workload adhead. If you can clear your desk of as much 'stuff' as you can. A nice, clear space is calming and not daunting of the tasks ahead. Create a 'minimal' look or 'white space'.
When treating someone with anxiety or stressed the first thing is to identify why they are stressed or anxious. This may be obvious or something subconcious. If possible trying to help the client identify ways they can remove or deal with the issue. Teaching how to breathe using the diaphragm (as above) is a simple coping method that works for some.