Our nervous system (autonomic nervous system) has two modes: the “flight or fight” response (when we are anxious, fearful, angry, or a bit stressed – sympathetic nervous system), and the “rest and digest” mode (when we are relaxed, unconcerned, and feel more at peace with things as they are – parasympathetic nervous system). As individuals and as a society, we are pretty much always in hyperdrive – the “flight or fight” response. Our individual and collective nervous systems are way out of balance. This is not ideal, as the “rest and digest” mode maintains a homeostasis, and relaxes and repairs the body’s systems. Bringing our body to a state of “rest and digest” through practices such as breath practices is important for our optimal mental and physical health

One of the simplest and quickest ways to manage stress and anxiety is to look towards managing our breath. Breath is the life-force that keeps us going and is also the key to managing our nervous system. Try breath practice to slow yourself down and manage your stress.

Notice your breath as you exhale. Shut your mouth when you do this exercise and focus on breathing through your nose. Notice how you exhale and count as you focus on the out breath. No need to focus on the inhale this will happen naturally.

Notice the number you count to as you breath out and on the next round try and slow your breathing down further stretching out the number so it takes longer. For example if you counted to 4 on the out breath, stretch it out and count to 5.

Notice that as you do this you become more calm and relaxed. Do this for a few rounds and then after you have expelled your breath notice the pause between the out breath and the in breath. See if you can count this here. Engage in a few more rounds, counting the out breath and starting the counting again at the pause spot before you breath in. See if you can extend this number in the next round.

It may look something like this

Exhale 4 counts, Pause 2 counts, Inhale,Pause.

Exhale 5 counts, Pause 3 counts, Inhale, Pause.

Exhale 5 counts, Pause 4 counts, Inhale, Pause. Try this for a few rounds.

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