Just breathe

Good - - WELLBEING -

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.

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