The power of breathing to relieve stress & anxiety - By Elzanne Myburgh

Breathing is a powerful tool. We can control our whole day and wellbeing simply with..…breath.


But how do we use breathing to help decrease stress & anxiety naturally?

Let’s start at the beginning…


When you are stressed or anxious you tend to always increase the activation of your sympathetic nervous system. The sympathetic nervous system is also known as your “Fight or Flight” nervous system. This is the nervous system that will help you in times of danger by spiking your cortisol AKA stress hormone as well as adrenaline levels.

Even though the sympathetic nervous system is extremely important in dangerous situations, it is not healthy to be in a heightened state of “fight or flight” permanently.


However, most people have experienced intense levels of stress for the last 2 years causing an overactive sympathetic nervous system.

Being in a constant sympathetic nervous system state can also lead to delay in healing, disrupted sleep and decreased digestion.


The question is…How do we get out of the heightened sympathetic nervous system state?

The answer is simple…B R E A T H I N G!

When we focus on breathing well and including nasal and abdominal breathing into our daily life, we activate our parasympathetic nervous system.

The parasympathetic nervous system is also known as your “rest and restore” nervous system. Your parasympathetic nervous system helps to promote healing, improve digestion, improve sleep, and delay ageing.

By simply focusing on breathing well, you can naturally decrease your stress and anxiety levels.


Let’s first focus on abdominal breathing:

  • Lie down on your back

  • Place one hand on your abdomen, just below your ribs

  • Place the other hand on your chest

  • Close your eyes

  • Make sure you focus on your mind and body connection

  • Slow down and think where your body is in space

  • Relax and breath naturally

  • Now, focus on inhaling and expanding your abdomen

  • Exhale and relax

  • Repeat again…

  • Inhale & expand

  • Exhale & relax

  • Inhale for 1…2….3….

  • Exhale for 1…2…3…4…

  • Repeat

  • Try and focus on your breathing for 5 minutes

  • You will feel calm, well rested and restored

By doing daily abdominal breathing you can naturally lower your stress and anxiety levels. No medication or doctors needed. Just B R E A T H E…

Take home message:


Try to incorporate your breathing into every day life events. You can focus on abdominal breathing while waiting for the kettle to boil, while sitting in traffic and even while brushing your teeth.

Always remember…When in doubt


B R E A T H out!!!

You can also watch my video to help:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=g18--gVoyxA

- Elzanne Myburgh

Physiotherapist at Recharge Physio at ReDefined




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