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Whether it’s the thought of giving a presentation at an important office meeting or getting frustrated sat in a queue of traffic, stress has become an unwelcome part of every day life. As the heart races, nerves tremble and palms of the hands become increasingly sweaty, increasing anxieties can result in a full-blown panic attack. But a simple breathing technique could help calm the nerves in seconds – by ‘fooling’ the body into thinking it is relaxed.
A YouTube video called ‘Mind Hack: Combat Anxiety with This Breathing Technique,’ explains how people can calm themselves down simply with a few inhales and exhales. It has been created by knowledge forum BigThink, behind thousands of educational videos online and reported by Medical Daily.
In it, Jane McGonigal, best-selling author of SuperBetter and video game designer, describes how the ‘power breath’ can help people to achieve a relaxed state similar to sleep.
While the benefits of deep breaths in have been widely reported, she argues the ultimate trick is not so much how you breathe in but also how you breathe out that counts.
The method has one simple rule – exhale for double the amount of time you inhale.
Put simply, if you breathe in and count to four seconds, you should then slowly exhale and count to eight seconds as you do it.
This triggers a change in the nervous system from ‘sympathetic’ mode – which is what we associate with fight or flight – to ‘parasympathetic’ – or ‘rest and digest’ mode.
During times of stress, the nervous system becomes over stimulated leading to an imbalance.