When your body reacts to stress or a threat, you switch from rest-and-digest mode to a fight-or-flight response.
Right now the coronavirus is causing a lot of fear and uncertainty. You might be feeling more threatened and anxious than usual, keeping your body in a consistent fight-or-flight or sympathetic state. When this occurs our body releases cortisol, called a “cortisol surge”. This response is incredibly helpful in short bursts but can be detrimental when ongoing.
We can calm our nervous system and exit the fight-or-flight response with a simple breathing technique where the in-breath is shorter than the out-breath. When we perform this type of patterned breathing, our body goes into a parasympathetic or relaxed state. Here we begin to feel our body chemistry shift.
This is a simple breathing technique that you can do anywhere.
- Sit in a comfortable chair with your feet on the floor, or simply lay down.
- Close your eyes.
- Breathe in through your nose while counting slowly to four. Feel the air enter your lungs.
- Hold your breath for four seconds.
- Begin to slowly exhale through your mouth for seven seconds.
- Hold your breath out for four seconds.
Repeat at least five times or until you feel the calm return.