Have We Been Breathing (to Reduce Stress) All Wrong????
Want to know the fastest way, tapping into our nervous system to eliminate the stress respone in our bodies????? Faster than a locamotive, more powerful than the Vagus Nerve????
Ever hear about the Phrenic Nerve?
Move over Vagus Nerve there is a new superhero in town.
Over the years I was taught that I needed to just take a deeply inhaled breath and hold it. "Big long breath in" was the mantra. We used this type of breathing to reduce anxiety, fear or as a way to gracefully get an overchatty massage client to be quiet, relax and "let go".
According to Dr Andrew Huberman, Neuroscientist at Stanford University we need to do the opposite of the big long breath in.
He explains that when we inhale deeply, our diaphragm moves down creating more room for the heart to expand. This slows the blood flow and the little SA Node in the heart tattletails to the brain whats going on in the heart. The brain responds by telling the heart to speed up.
I don't know about you, but when I am in flight or fight mode, anxiety or panic, my heart is racing pretty fast and this does not help to calm things down in the brain.
Dr. Huberman talks about the "physiological sigh" discovered in the 1930's (Why has it taken this long to get the word out?).
He explains that when we are in stress mode, we can't control the mind with the mind. Challenge for people with ADHD, Anxiety Disorder, PTSD, Depression etc, the problem that caused anxiety fight or flight response started or resides in the mind to begin with.
But we have a super power in that the Brain through the Phrenic Nerve can control the Diaphragm and do what is called the "Physiological Sigh".
Sounds like a new dance move!
Dr. Huberman explains that we must breath, like after we have had a good hard ugly cry. You know the one where you are taking a couple of those short breathes in. Sniff Sniff Sigh!
Thats the secret, 2 short breathes in with a long exhale, exhale must be longer than the inhale.
When you exhale the diaphragm moves up and squishes the heart making the blood to flow more quickly. The SA Node again rats out the heart to the brain and the brain tells the heart to slow down.
When you are stressed the little avelor sacs in the lungs can collapse, so the two short breaths in open up the flattened sacs and let out trapped Carbon Dioxide.
Having an increase of CO2 in our blood can also make us feel anxious.
So for a fast, free, can be done anywhere tool to bring us out of stress and anxiety do 2 short inhales through the nose with a long exhale out the mouth.
I have done it and I am calm in under 2 minutes and now my brain can think rationally. The ability to have a directed mind is key to those struggling with mental health issues. "A Directed Mind" is like a muscle we can build up.
Below is the amazing podcast for those brain nerds that cover this science in greater detail.
Tara Wood L.M.T.
Andrew Huberman Podcast explains Phrenic Nerve breathing indepth