“Butterflies” In Your Stomach?

April 30, 2020


Carla Alpert, NBC-HWC

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.

    1. Sit in a comfortable chair with your feet on the floor, or simply lay down.
    2. Close your eyes.
    3. Breathe in through your nose while counting slowly to four. Feel the air enter your lungs.
    4. Hold your breath for four seconds.
    5. Begin to slowly exhale through your mouth for seven seconds.
    6. Hold your breath out for four seconds.

Repeat at least five times or until you feel the calm return.