Apart from the obvious reasons, breathing is the gentlest way to complete the stress cycle. It helps regulate your nervous system. It does not have to be any major effort, just breathe.
Sounds too easy, too hippie, but focused (mindful) breathing is a highly evidence-based strategy that completes the response to the stress cycle.
By performing slow breathes in and really slow drawn out breathes out (exhalation), aids your parasympathetic nervous system to be engaged, which leads to the down regulation of the central nervous system.
In short, breathing not only helps tell your body its safe, but it also subsequently reduces your stress levels, and calms your nervous system down from its heightened status.
The stress cycle is like a book, it has a beginning, middle and end. Just like in a book the stress starts slowly, without you noticing and builds in intensity. We need to communicate with our body when the end of the book has occurred, because it does not realise that you met that deadline, or you finished your tax etc. We need to communicate with it in a way it understands. Breathing is one of the many things we can do to communicate with our body.
Tuning into our breath for 1-2mins is a simple way to drain off the stress of the day. If all you do is breathe and just let your thoughts float in and out without focusing on them, you will be able to quieten your nervous system, therefore, reducing the intensity of your stress.
Completing the 1-2 mins of slow focused breathing when you get into the car after work will allow for you to drain off your workday stress before you get home. If that’s not an option, try choosing to focus on your breathing when you get into bed, which will also aid in reducing the time it takes for you to fall asleep.
Breathing is something we do everyday, but don’t forget the power of it.
So next time you need to switch the body’s stress signal off, just remember to stop, focus on your breathing, and follow the above tips!