Whether it’s at work or home, we all get stressed. Although stress can help us meet that looming deadline, win a race (or run from a bear!) prolonged or chronic stress could lead to problems in  our mental and physical wellbeing. While most of us are accustomed to the feeling of stress, we often fail to fully understand what it is and how to react to it.

When presented with a stressful situation, your brain tells your body to produce hormones such as adrenaline and cortisol. This activates our ‘fight or flight’ response, causing our heart rate to become almost metronomic and blood pressure to rise.

While this helps us deal with the immediate pressures facing us, the prolonged release of stress hormones can lead to a variety of ailments including headaches, stomach problems and high blood pressure. This can even increase the risks of stroke or heart attack. More commonly,  long term stress leads to a decline in mental wellbeing, playing a key role in the development of depression and anxiety disorders.

Keeping on top of our stresses can be tough when we’re faced with situations that overwhelm us, but there are steps we can take to manage our tensions and anxieties.

In these situations, deep breathing techniques and other mindful practises can help promote mental wellbeing and calm anxieties.

In an article for Forbes, Dr John Paul Minda, Professor of Psychology at the University of Western Ontario, commented on how important mindfulness can be:

“One possibility is that mindfulness meditation can help people to be more attentive to their own emotions […] by being aware of negative feelings as soon as they arise, people can engage in positive remediation rather than dwelling on the negative cognition.”

However, achieving mindfulness can be hard. We can’t always track the progress we make and noticeable results can take a long time. Improving mental wellbeing using mindfulness  requires time out of busy schedules every day if we ever hope to truly achieve it.

While creating a stress-free environment is near to impossible in this fast-paced world, tracking your stress and its patterns, and spotting early symptoms can make a huge difference.

One of the easiest and most accessible ways to reduce immediate stress is the Papworth Method. This deep breathing technique can help you restore some calm and reassess a situation, potentially giving you a completely new perspective.

Alongside this, deep breathing and mindfulness can help to significantly reduce the stress hormones in your body.

A Cosmopolitan article comments on how correct deep breathing techniques can help reduce stress, making you calmer and happier:

“When you breathe horizontally, your vagus nerve — it starts at the back of your head and runs all the way through your body — tells your brain to get into rest-and-digest mode.”

As a result, you’ll feel less tense, sleep better, have less stomach drama, and fortify your immune system.

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As with most forms of self improvement, technique is everything. Breathing deep down into your abdomen will help contract your diaphragm, pulling your lungs down and allowing you to take in more air. With the diaphragm contracting, your vagus nerve is being stimulated, allowing you to trigger your relaxation response and help soothe any ‘fight or flight’ responses your body is having.

While putting time aside every  day to work on achieving mindfulness may be unrealistic, breathing exercises can help you regain control during those daily stressful moments.

Many stress and anxiety relief techniques may seem like a pseudoscience or just plain ineffective, but the science behind deep breathing shows that it can help reconnect your body and mind as you start to ease your stresses and anxieties.