Stress Management 101: Teach Employees How to Breathe
By Werner Absenger Chef de Cuisine, Cygnus 27 at Amway Grand Plaza | April 2014
Controlled Breathing: The Most Basic of Mind-body Techniques
Noticing your breathing pattern and being able to change breathing from tension producing to one of relaxation is a simple and crucial mind-body technique. Meditation and deep-breathing form the foundation for many other mind-body techniques (1).
When we are stressed, many of us tend to breathe shallowly. This shallow breathing elevates blood pressure, heart rate and raises anxiety. Deep breathing, either gently in meditation or rapidly during chaotic breathing increase the body's capacity to draw in oxygen and free carbon dioxide. Deep breathing calms the mind and engages the body's natural relaxation response. Deep breathing also decreases blood pressure, reduces heart rate and promotes cardiac function. It is also beneficial for other stress-related conditions such as diabetes, intestinal problems, asthma, chronic pain, depression and anxiety(1).
The appreciation of the significance of breath is detected in the word "inspiration." The name for taking in breath also suggests that one is "inspired," "excited," "ennobled," or "turned on" by life. Respiration is the only system of the body that is both automatic and voluntary. Breathing goes on without us having to think about it. Breathing also can be controlled(1).
Breathing has this excellent adaptability about it. It is always there, always accessible for use, and we can shape breathing. As we form our breath, as we regulate its depth or shallowness or its rate, we can also modify many other functions in the body(1).
Breathing is responsive to emotional states and can also shape emotional states. When you are stressed, breathing is shallow and hurried, and the sympathetic nervous system is stimulated. The body wants more oxygen to go to the large muscles, so it can either run away or fight. If you are ready for a fight or you are trying to run, you need a rush of energy and adrenalin. If this state persists, it can cause a variety of physical problems(1).