Dearest friends, next time you are feeling overwhelmed use your breath to help soothe yourself.
Practicing breathing exercises can help you relax when you are feeling overwhelmed, because they make your body feel like it does when you are already relaxed. Deep breathing is a great and easy way to lower stress in the body. This is because when you breathe deeply, your brain receives messages to calm down and relax. Deep breathing allows an array of physiological and psychological processes to take place in our body.
There is a wide range of evidence compiled in scientific reviews that supports the notion that deep-breathing techniques can be beneficial in enhancing physical and psychological wellbeing. Research has shown the effectiveness of deep-breathing exercises for improving psychological and physiological stress (Hopper, Murray, Ferrara, and Singleton, 2019). Deep breathing can reduce anxiety and depressive symptoms in people experiencing those conditions (Jerath, Crawford, Barnes, and Harden, 2015).
You may be wondering how can this seemingly simple exercise do all of this?
Practicing breathing exercises regulates our nervous system. Deep breathing with a slow rhythm can increase our relaxation responses by activating the parasympathetic nervous system and decrease stress responses by inhibiting the sympathetic nervous system (Saoji, 2019). Practicing breathing exercises also promotes emotional wellbeing. Studies on slow-breathing techniques suggest that they help foster positive emotions and behaviors, facilitating emotional regulation and overall wellbeing (Zaccaro, 2018).
The square breathing exercise uses the deep breathing pattern with internal and external breath retention. It consists of imagining each breath cycle as a square, using a 1:1:1:1 ratio for inhaling, holding in, exhaling, and holding out.