I talk about breathing a lot and why not? How we breathe can be essential to understanding how we show up in life. Stop reading (for a moment!) and notice your breath. Is it shallow and/or rapid or is it deep, slow, and rhythmic? If you're breathing is quick and shallow, you can actually activate a stress response in your body whether you're experiencing a stressful situation or not. Quick, shallow breathing informs the brain that you are in stress and among many other things, digestion can start to shut down as the blood gets shunted to the heart, lungs, and extremities to get you out of harm's way. Remember, the stress response originated as a way to move the body away from the lion chasing it. The brain doesn't know the difference between real and imagined stress, so how you breathe can play a very important role in your body chemistry.
Bringing the body into a relaxed state can be as simple as altering the breath to a deep, slow, and rhythmic pattern. Start by consciously slowing down the breath by breathing through the nose and into the belly (inhale to the count of 5 and exhale to the count of 5, or longer if it's comfortable). Feel the belly rise and fall with each slow inhale and exhale. It may take some concentration at first, but it will calm the body and the brain down.
I have found that since we can't be simultaneously stressed and relaxed, slowing down my breathing to a deep, rhythmic pattern really takes the edge off any situation. The relaxed breath creates space and with it a sense of ease. Plus, I have noticed after doing this mindfully for a while, it has become more and more my normal way of breathing.
Check your breathing regularly and when you find yourself breathing fast and shallow, consciously adjust it to slow and deep. It only takes a second and you'll notice everything start to calm down.
Calm, slow, and rhythmic. Beautiful.