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Just Breathe

11th August 2017

Therapist Fay is focussing on the simple things this week...

Have you heard of ‘fight or flight’? That’s the natural response your nervous system has when faced with fear in a stressful situation. This was originally designed to help us escape from physically dangerous challenges, but in the modern world our bodies trigger this response more and more – getting our bodies stuck in constant survival mode based on stress hormones like cortisol and adrenaline.

These hormones aren’t good for our overall health in the long-run, they are designed to give us a short burst of focus. The ‘rest and digest’ response is slower, activated when we are calm, well fed and nurtured.

This response can help keep us in balance, as it’s designed to preserve our long-term health and wellbeing.

When trying to overcome a compulsion or addition to gambling, breathing exercises may sound too simple for such a complex issue. Studies have shown that breathing exercises can help people to deal with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), and can help with relapse prevention.

We take breathing for granted, but not only is it vital to getting oxygen into our bodies, it can help to strength our ‘rest and digest’ response. Becoming more conscious of this gentle action can help keep us calm and focused, especially when dealing with difficult situations over long periods of time.

A simple exercise to try is the ‘4-7-8’ method. Breath in through your nose for a count of four, hold your breath for a count of seven, then breathe out through your mouth for a count of eight.

You can repeat this exercise as many times as you like throughout the day, and it may help to relieve anxiety, panic and stress in a small way.

Read our other blogs about mindfulness here.