How to manipulate the breath-stress connection for a calmer mind

| May 8, 2013 | 0 Comments

Photo by Martinak15 via Flickr

Just take a deep breath” may be one hell of a clichéd thing to tell someone who’s stressed out of their mind. But scientists have found that it’s actually exactly what’s required to stop the body’s biological and chemical stress response and create a calmer state of mind.

For dancers, this knowledge of how to quickly regain a calm composure can mean the difference between an effortless performance and a noticeably stressed and strained one.

Beating the breath-stress connection

Ever noticed how your breathing becomes rapid, uneven and shallow when you’re feeling anxious, nervous or under pressure? Compare that to those calm moments listening to your favourite soothing music, or stroking your cat on a lazy afternoon – your breathing is slow, easy and deep.

But here’s the trick, although your breathing rate is usually as a result of your state of mind, it can also be the cause. Put another way, stress affects your breathing, but breathing can also beat your stress.

By simply deliberately slowing down your breathing the next time you feel anxious, you can trick the body out of its stress response. Your slow breathing tells the body that all is well (your cat-stroking mode) and disrupts the stress messages. Even though you might not have fixed whatever it was that was causing you stress, the slow, deep breaths will put you in a much calmer, more controlled state of mind to be able to deal with it.

This is certainly one trick to remember to soothe those pre-performance nerves. Just take a deep breath, or five.

And if you’re still struggling to keep your head above water, enjoy this song by Alexi Murdoch called ‘Breathe’. (P.S. Fans of Stargate Universe will recognise this from the ending in episode 3.)

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Category: Mind

About the Author ()

Hi, I'm Robynn, and I'm a student of the potential of the body, the marvels of the mind, and the beauty of it all combined in ballet. As the editor, BodyMindBallet is where I get to learn, to share and to enjoy this wide world of dance - and with every day I gain an ever richer respect for the athleticism of dance and the skill of performance artistry.

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