Topic 8 – Strategies to Cope

Calm Breathing

What is Calm Breathing?

Calm breathing (sometimes called “diaphragmatic breathing”) is a technique that helps you slow down your breathing when feeling stressed or anxious. It helps you quickly gain control over the body and steady the mind when it is alarmed, feeling anxious, or angry. Calm Breathing can be done anywhere, anytime, and it’s easy to do without anyone noticing.

Why is Calm Breathing important?

The term ‘fight or flight’ is known as the stress response. It’s what the body does as it prepares to confront or avoid danger. When used appropriately, the stress response helps us rise to many challenges. But trouble starts when this response is constantly provoked by day-to-day events, such as job worries, financial stress, traffic jams, relationship problems, and family dynamics.

Our breathing changes when we are feeling anxious, angry or frustrated. We tend to take short, quick, shallow breaths, or even hyperventilate; this is called ‘over-breathing’ and increases our stress response, which activates us. Calm breathing lowers this stress response and takes the tension out of our bodies.

Deep abdominal breathing encourages full oxygen exchange — that is, the beneficial trade of incoming oxygen for outgoing carbon dioxide. Not surprisingly, it can slow the heartbeat and lower or stabilize blood pressure.  Calm breathing is a great portable tool that you can use whenever you are starting to feel triggered. However, it does require some practice.