Woman breathing fresh air at sunset on the beach and raising arms

The use of breath is a fundamental skill that is taught in many counselling sessions at Serenity Now Wellness Centre. Your breath is your life force but it is can also provide some very valuable information about your life. We have all heard people being instructed to take a deep breath when they are feeling anxious or overwhelmed. However, we often do not know the power of the breath and what information it can provide regarding our lives.

Your Breath is Your Asset

Your breath can be your greatest asset to help regulate your body. We have two separate systems operating within our bodies that can be managed using the breath. There is the sympathetic nervous system, which is the system that regulates your fight or flight. If you are engaged in your sympathetic nervous system, you may feel like your breathing is quite shallow, that your heart rate is increased and that your body feels mobilized to respond. While this system is useful to help you work through your day, if maintained for too long, you could struggle with fatigue, anxiousness, and in some instances it can also cause digestive issues.

That is why our bodies are equipped with the complementary system of the parasympathetic nervous system. This system engages your relaxation response and helps your body slow down. If you have been in a high energy output state, the parasympathetic system helps you recharge your batteries. To engage your parasympathetic, you need to breathe into your stomach, past your diaphragm. This will help reduce anxiety and feelings of being overwhelmed. This is the breath people are suggesting when they say “take a deep breath.”

Though it may seem like the only thing left to do is to pay attention to your breathing and change your breath, often your body can be locked in one of the systems and can be contributing to the issues surrounding your life currently. With a body-focused counsellor at Serenity Now, you can work on assessing your breath and the effect it may be having on your life as well as learn tools to unlock the held pattern and alternate between systems as it becomes necessary.