Updated: May 18
Over the course of a single day, we’re likely to experience a wide range of situations that vary from mundane to life-changing. Of course, not every day has a vast, paradigm-shifting moment, but moments like that inevitably happen throughout life.
Arguably, the most vital lesson to learn from all of those experiences in life is the importance of managing your response to good and bad experiences. Our breathing habits are intimately tied to our ability to regulate our emotional reactions to external stimuli. As a result, it’s more important than ever to start engaging with our breathing habits to ensure a more positive life experience.
In today’s blog, we’ll be exploring how three vital breathing techniques can improve our emotional responses and let us live a healthier, more fulfilling life.
It’s All About Control
You might be wondering what we mean when we say “controlling an emotional response.” To many, controlling our emotions is about suppressing those emotions during times of stress or trauma.
However, avoidance through suppression is usually never a solution to specific problems. Instead, identifying and managing your emotional responses should be the key priority. The best way to do that is by managing your breathing to have conscious control over your emotions. In this way, we can think about breathing exercises as tools that can help govern those responses.
Losing sleep over the stresses of life is a common problem for many and can be rooted in the inability of the body to calm down from a long period of stress. It’s a vicious cycle, as sleep deprivation only further exacerbates feelings of anxiety. Taking control of your emotional response can be vital for a restful sleep.
The Body Scan technique can be the ideal tool for the job:
Lay down in your bed or wherever you do your best sleeping and get comfortable.
Take note of your body and consciously choose to feel each extremity. Start from your head and work down to your toes.
As you notice areas of tension in your body, direct your breath to that spot with every inhale and exhale. Of course, we don’t mean you should be blowing air on these spots but instead direct your energy as you breathe.
Manage Your Reactions
Of course, the tribulations of life usually happen when we least expect them. Thankfully, taking a moment to breathe through a particularly affecting piece of information can help. The square technique has a great reputation for allowing users to calm themselves down during moments of high stress:
Breathe in for a count of 4
Hold the top of your breath for a count of 4
Gently exhale through your mouth for a count of 4
At the bottom of your breath, pause and hold for a count of 4.
Controlling your emotions isn’t just about calming yourself down. Sometimes it helps to stay alert and focused in certain situations. The following is ideal for boosting your oxygen levels while encouraging your body to engage your fight or flight response in a more controlled fashion:
Sit down comfortably in a chair.
Keep your mouth closed before inhaling and exhaling rapidly through your nose. Keep your breaths as short as possible. Don’t worry if you make a lot of noise.
Try to breathe in and out in rapid succession three times in one second. This forces the diaphragm to work harder. After each set of three, breathe normally for a few seconds before trying again.
Be careful to complete this exercise for only 15 seconds when you first begin.
For more information regarding how to manage your breathing for a more effective lifestyle, visit our other blogs here at The Exhale to get the latest tips and tricks. For free guided breathing exercises that you can take anywhere, try out the Breathwrk app here.
And remember: Breathe Better, Live Better.