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60 Seconds to Calm

It may sound unlikely or undoable, but you can go from stress to calm in 60 seconds. Still don’t believe it? Let’s give it a go. 60 seconds to calm.

If ever you’ve been in a state of shock or panic and someone told you to “stay calm” or “just breathe”, you would be forgiven for thinking (or shouting) “That’s not going to help! But it does. The caveat is how you breathe.

When we’re in a state of fear, shock or panic we shallow breathe. You are in fight or flight and your sympathetic nervous system is taking the reigns. You stake short sharp breaths into the upper chest, panting, and rather than helping you calm down, it simply exasperates the feeling of panic.

Deep diaphragmatic breathing is the key to going from panic to calm in 60 seconds. This breathing technique stimulates your Parasympathetic Nervous System, your “rest and digest” response. The opposite of your Sympathetic Nervous System, which triggers the ‘fight or flight response, a call to action.

So, instead of getting you ready for action with a hit of adrenalin, deep breathing activates calm and relaxation and releases your feel-good hormones, endorphins, oxytocin, dopamine and serotonin.

Practising this breathing technique will help you reduce stress at the moment, and with continued practice, will lower your overall stress levels in the long term.

Added bonus: Deep breathing reduces muscle tension thereby lessening pain.

The 7/11 Breath

We call this exercise 7/11 breathing, because you breathe in for a count of 7 and out for 11. Always making sure that your OUT breath is longer than your IN breath.

If you find that breathing for that long isn’t possible, it doesn’t matter, as long as you make your out breath longer than your in breath, it will still work.

  1. Breathing in through your nose, pull your breath deep down into your stomach to the count of 7 (don’t think about your chest, the air will fill up there on its own) It might help if you hold your hands on your stomach, so you can feel it swelling up as you breathe in. Inhale until your lungs are completely full.

  2. When you get to the top of your breath, begin to breathe out through your mouth in slow motion, like you’re blowing out a candle slowly and softly. Breathe all the way out to the count of 11. Allow your lungs to empty completely.

Repeat 5 cycles of this breath until you feel calm and relaxed.


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