physical dangers. This created the basic stress responses in our brains that we still carry today,
hundreds of thousands of years later. Years of running from giant animals and the breathing
that accompanied that activity stuck with the human psyche as a pairing that equated ‘danger’
with quick, shallow breaths.
Today, when we’re anxious, we still take quick, shallow breaths from our upper chest - this type
of breathing is a natural response to stress and sends signals through our body that danger is
nearby, which stresses us out even more.
Even if there’s no real physical threat, we all still experience these breathing patterns because
the stress response hasn't evolved to differentiate between various stressors ... which is why it’s important to pay attention to how you’re breathing the next time you’re stressed, angry, or worried.
Look down, is your chest moving up and down with every breath or is your stomach?
With diaphragmatic breathing, you’ll breathe from your belly instead of the chest, which promotes
deeper breathing and provides a sense of calm and relaxation encouraging the body to unwind.
To practice this type of breathing, place your hand on your abdomen and push outward while inhaling. A few rounds of this and you’ll remind your body that you’re just fine, and not in any physical danger.
Another technique I learned from my friend Nancy Curtis, RN and meditation facilitator, either standing or sitting in a comfortable position, reach around your head and place your palms on top of your head. In this position, all your breaths will be belly breaths! This simple tip was a game changer for me!
“When you own your breath, nobody can steal your peace.” - Unknown