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How controlled breathing can help you stay in control

Find your calm is your guide to handling the tough times. Whether it’s the pressure of a long-lasting pandemic, job, school or financial stress.

05·08·2021

Finding peace and calm in your life: not so easy when you’ve got an assignment due. Or a mobile bill that’s two weeks late. Or three missed calls from your ex. 

When people are under the pump, the first thing they’ll do is look for a distraction. 

This could be scrolling through your phone, grabbing a can of energy drink, finding a cat video, or anything on the internet you can use to take your mind off things. 

Not only does this approach fail to deal with the problem. But often, it makes it worse.

There are so many better ways to approach stress, anxiety and angst. 

In Find your calm, we’re going to share a few techniques you can use to stay on top of things. The first one is as simple as breathing in (…and out).

What is controlled breathing? 

As the Better Health Channel states, when you start to experience things like stress and anxiety, your breathing pattern will also start to change.

It’s all part of the classic “fight-or-flight” response to danger (even if the danger is only something as simple as a cranky boss or a bad mark on your test). 

To get more oxygen into your system, your breathing quickens in pace. Instead of using your whole diaphragm, your breaths become small and shallow.

The problem is, rather than calming you down it actually has the opposite effect. 

In some cases it even makes things worse. 

Controlled breathing is a great way to counter this. It’s a technique deliberately designed to slow things down – and make each breath as effective as possible. 

What are the benefits of controlled breathing?

Aside from building an increased sense of calm and wellbeing, there are some physical benefits to controlled breathing that you might not be aware of. 

Here are just a few from the Better Health Channel:

  • Lowers your blood pressure and heart rate
  • Reduces the build-up of lactic acid (what gives you a stitch when you’re running)
  • Improves your immune system
  • Increases your energy, sense of calm and wellbeing

How do you start controlled breathing?


Well, it depends who you ask. 

The internet is full of experts on meditation and mindfulness (spend about 10 seconds scrolling through your IG feed and you’ll see for yourself).

It’s really about finding something that works for you. 

But hey, we’re not about to leave you high and dry. 

A few experts we talked to, including yoga teacher Jen Paynter, recommended Rapt! followers try controlled breathing techniques where they count their breaths out. 

One example is the 4,4,4 technique.  

  • Breathe in for a count of 4
  • Hold for a count of 4
  • Out for a count of 4
  • Hold for a count of 4
  • Breathe in for a count of 4

 

Repeat this sequence at least three times (or as many as you like).

There are a few variations on this including the 4,7,8 and the 3,2,4. They’re basically the same as the 4,4,4 the only thing that changes is the amount of time you’re holding.

As Jen says, the most important part is finding a breathing pattern you’re comfortable with. What’s important is slowing down and paying attention to your breaths. 

“You can count as slow or as fast as you like and repeat until you find a sense of stillness and calm,” Jen says. 

“Best to do while seated and it can have your full concentration. Or if you just find it annoying go for a walk and notice the air on your face.”

If you or a loved one is feeling stressed or overwhelmed, it’s important to seek help. You can contact Beyond Blue at 1300 224 636 or visit their website here.

Have you ever tried controlled breathing? What do you do to cut down on stress? Share your story here, we’d love to hear from you.

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