Fine-tuning your stress responses can also be as easy as learning to breathe better, suggests breathing coach Emma Ferris. She attributes simple breathing techniques to helping her cope when she was suffering from extreme morning sickness while pregnant and trying to run her business at the same time.
“I had this overload of hormones which make you breathe faster when you are pregnant, and I was already in that stressed state, so it was too much for my body and it made me even more sick than I needed to be.”
Ferris says we use the wrong muscles when we breathe, especially when we are stressed. “We end up recruiting muscles that aren’t designed to be used all the time – like the muscles around our throat, in our neck, the muscles in our chest… they all get used to do what we call accessory breathing. That’s breathing above our shoulders and chest to get more air in, instead of using our breathing muscle: the diaphragm – where 80 per cent of the work should really come from.
“We also begin to breathe too fast, and we breathe in too much and not enough out, and that’s enough to drive us into our fight-or-flight response,” she says.
Unlocking the key to breathing better can start with a breath test online (there is both a ‘Test Your Breath’ tool and a breathing questionnaire used in clinics around the world at thebutterflyeffect.online). It’s all about getting a little more educated around the only thing we have control of consciously, and unconsciously, says Ferris.
“The greatest weapon against stress is our ability to choose one thought over another.” William James, American philosopher and psychologist.