So I’ve come across this simple little trick that calms me right down, whenever I need it. I can do it anywhere and not look silly- well, no more than usual- ha! This simple trick has a not so simple name- diaphragmatic breathing. I feel like they’ve chucked a few spare letters in there just for fun, but hey- it chills me, so go figure.
All diaphragmatic breathing means is engaging your diaphragm muscle when you breathe- or simply put- belly breathing. The easiest way to do this is to place your hands flat on your belly and breathe. Correct belly breathing means your hands will be pushed out when you breathe in (that is, your belly expands) and will sink back in when you breathe out.
It really does sound simple, yes? But truth be told, it takes a little practice and feels awfully strange at first. Most of us breathe too shallowly, circulating the air through our upper body without engaging the diaphragm.
But it’s worth getting the hang of this breathing because the benefits are wonderful. On a physical level, diaphragmatic breathing strengthens the diaphragm muscle, which builds better core stability as well as allowing you to breathe in more oxygen than shallow breathing, with less effort. It engages the parasympathetic nervous system, switching off the sympathetic system, or in everyday terms, it halts the flight or flight battles we wage daily. In other words, it will calm the whole body down, allowing your body to go into a rest and repair state. Diaphragmatic breathing is great for anxiety and is useful for panic attacks.
Practice it daily, and then, when you are experiencing moments of stress or anxiety you will already have the hang of it and will be able to calm yourself down nicely. It’s a fantastic stress relief that will benefit your whole body. 5-10 diaphragmatic breathes twice a day is all it takes to start feeling the benefits. Can’t get any simpler than that!