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Oddly enough, yes! According to The American Institute of Stress (2012), activating the body’s natural “relaxation response” is a physical response that initiates deep rest and has the power to change further physical and emotional responses to stress.
When you allow your body to utilize this relaxation response, you are providing yourself the ability to control breathing, a semi-automatic process in our bodies. It is as simple as remembering 4x4x4: breathe in through your nose for four seconds, hold your breath for four seconds, and release slowly out of your mouth for four seconds. Repeat this process 4-5 times. Controlling your breathing by taking a moment to focus not only on your breaths but on yourself and your surroundings, you remain in control. Additionally, blood pressure decreases, heart rate beats slower, and metabolism slows, thus activating what is called the parasympathetic nervous system, which is responsible for what is known as our rest and digest system (The American Institute of Stress, 2012).
Moreover, you help reduce the overactivation of the stress response from our limbic system. The natural chemicals (adrenaline, cortisol, and dopamine) released from our brain’s limbic system help us cope with stressful, dangerous, or exciting moments (Brooks, 2017). However, staying in stress response mode can be harmful to your physical and emotional well-being, moving us from a state of short-term stress to a state of long-term or chronic stress (Brooks, 2017).
Thankfully, we have a tool that we always carry with us. Your breath is your ultimate chill pill, which can be used along with mindfulness (not mind fullness) to help combat those stressful or overwhelming situations at a moment’s notice. Remember, all you need is about 45-50 seconds, and your breath… your body will handle the rest. Check out these useful resources to help guide you on understanding your journey toward being more mindful with some quick breathing and mindfulness exercises.
Mindfulness & Relaxation Resources:
Deep Breathing https://www.therapistaid.com/worksheets/deep-breathing-worksheet
How to Practice Mindfulness: https://www.therapistaid.com/worksheets/how-to-practice-mindfulness-meditation
What is Mindfulness? https://www.therapistaid.com/worksheets/what-is-mindfulness
Brooks, J. (2017). Crisis intervention: The neurobiology of crisis. Elani Publishing.
Marksberry, K. (2017, January 4). Take a deep breath. The American Institute of Stress. Retrieved from https://www.stress.org/take-a-deep-breath