Do you kind of forget how to breathe to calm yourself when you’re feeling stressed? You don’t really realise it until maybe someone points it out. Or you finally get to a place of calm and think, ‘Boy, I wasn’t feeling that great!’

It’s understandable. You can get so wrapped up in the issue your focus is entirely on that. I’ve done it.

When I started studying coaching and other psychological modalities, breathing was often mentioned. Eventually (not immediately), I realised I rarely focused on my breath!

I might have been aware I was breathing differently when stressed, yet I did nothing to change it. But I also wasn’t aware of how I was breathing in my day-to-day life during times when I wasn’t stressed.

Not only was I not using a valuable tool at my disposal to manage the impact of stress, I took my ability to breathe completely for granted. So in this post I want to share why knowing how we breathe is important and a simple technique you can use to restore calm when you feel stressed.

Picture of a person feeling stressed and forgetting to breathe. The person is thinking, "This issue is so hard! I'll never get it sorted!" It's important when you're feeling stressed and anxiety to remember how to breathe to calm yourself.

What about you?

Do you know how to breathe to calm yourself?

As a way to self-regulate how you’re feeling. Self-regulation is an important life skill. It’s about you recognising and using your personal power, which you can in many different ways. Breathing is one of them. And exercising your personal power helps to feed your confidence in yourself.

There is a picture of a virtuous cycle saying: Ability to self-regulate with an arrow pointing to Recognising and using your personal power then another arrow pointing to Feeds you confidence. When we self-regulate, we are using our personal power and that helps increase our confidence. A person is looking at this, smiling and saying, "I'll try deep breathing!" Being able to self-regulate how you feel is a key life skill. Learning how to breathe to calm yourself will help you do that.

And do you know where you breathe from when you’re not stressed?

Stop for a minute and notice. Do this a few times throughout the day.

Are you breathing from high up in your chest? Maybe near the throat? Or lower down around your diaphragm? Or maybe even lower?

What is your style of breathing like?

Short quick gasps for air? A slow, deep intake of breath? Something in between? Or do you find yourself holding your breath a lot?

Breathing is fundamental to living and your life

Yet many of us are not very intimate with how we breathe. Notice how you breathe and where you’re breathing from when you’re working, cooking, preparing for bed, exercising, reading, doing household chores, errands, looking after your kids or grandchildren, doing something you really enjoy doing, etc.

Being aware of how you breathe can help you identify when you’re feeling stressed

When you are feeling stressed and anxiety, your breath can be a go-to tool to help you restore a sense of calm.

So here’s an easy-to-use breathing technique to help you do that.

Being aware of how you breathe can help you identify when you’re feeling stressed. Are you aware of how you breathe? Click here to learn more #breathing #stress #wellness Share on X

How to breathe to calm yourself using the 4-6 technique

You use this technique in the moment when you’re feeling stressed.

Breathe in for a count of 4.

Exhale for a count of 6.

Repeat until you feel calm. Then keep doing it AND smile to yourself.

This technique helps to regulate your nervous system.

And it’s a great technique as no one can really see you do it.

A person is standing looking calm and practicing a breathing technique. They are saying, "Inhale for 4 seconds. Exhale for 6 seconds." You can regulate your nervous system by using the 4-6 breathing technique.

What’s it like for you?

Are you aware of where you typically breathe from – high up in your chest, from your diaphragm, from your belly? Have a go at breathing using the 4-6 technique. How did you feel afterwards? Share your thoughts or questions in the comments below or alternatively email them to me (contact form in sidebar).  

If you are struggling with a challenging health issue or caring for someone who is, and would like support to get unstuck and on any of the issues discussed here, have a look at how we can work together and get in touch for a free no obligation consultation.

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© Copyright Barbara Babcock 2020

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