When you’re feeling stressed or start to panic about something, our brains play a huge part but our bodies obviously place a role too.
In reaction to whats going on in our heads, our body receives signals that can send it into fight or flight mode. Large doses of hormones, including adrenalin, are delivered to our bodies to prepare them to react to the perceived threat.
You get those feelings of increased heart rate, breathlessness, sweating, narrowed vision and your hearing may become more sensitive, amongst other delightful symptoms that flood your body.
Often what’s causing the stress isn’t something that requires us to either run or defend ourselves, but we’re still left feeling all those unpleasant effects.
So how can you calm yourself when you start to panic or feel stressed?
After years of studies and research, and based on some good advise from his dad (who just happened to be a neuroscientist), Christopher Bergland recommends simply increasing the duration of your exhale after taking a deep breath.
Such a simple exercise will stimulate your vagus nerve, which reduces your heart rate and helps you to remain calm.
To effectively hack your vagus nerve Bergland recommends doing ten rounds of vagus nerve breathing based on a 4 second : 8 second inhalation-to-exhalation ratio.
During the four-second inhalation phase, breathe in through your nose and slowly count to four. Then exhale through pursed lips (as if you’re blowing out lots of candles on a birthday cake) as you slowly count to eight.
If you’d like to read the full science run-down and to get more tips on how to practise better breathing techniques, Christopher’s article is here.