Ground and Breathe to Control Stress
Two helpful methods of calming your nervous system when you feel overwhelmed.
It happens to all of us: those uncontrollable moments of stress. There may be an excessive number of emails to respond to, meetings to attend, and social responsibilities to fulfill. Or perhaps you’re simply having a strong emotional reaction to some recent news you heard. Your mind is racing, your thoughts are rushing, and your heart rate is soaring. Here are two useful methods for managing these stressful moments.
Stressful moments like these activate our nervous systems and leave us feeling out of control, and disassociated from our bodies. Bringing your awareness back to your physical body and your surroundings can help you feel safe. The quickest way to do this is to use the 5-4-3-2-1 method, which engages your five senses to bring you back into the present moment.
After you’ve moved your attention away from your racing thoughts and into your body, you may use breathwork to activate your parasympathetic nervous system, which will help you relax even more. There are countless breathwork exercises and techniques to choose from, but here are a few of our favorites.
Place one hand on your chest and the other hand just below your ribs. Inhale through the nose down into the belly, such that you feel your belly rise. Exhale through the mouth, noticing the belly and the hand below your ribs retreating inward. Repeat this 20 times to begin. Over time, try extending the amount of time you spend doing the breathwork.
release all of the air from your chest and inhale through the nose for 5 seconds, then hold your breath for 5 seconds, then exhale out of the mouth for 5 seconds. Repeat this cycle until you feel relaxed.