Learn the quickest way to regulate your body's autonomic nervous system.
When you are in a state of anxiety and stress, or any other strong uncomfortable emotion like anger for example, your sympathetic nervous system will kick in. This is known as the fight and flight response. The reason your body goes into fight and flight is because it’s trying to protect you. When you sense a threat or think you’re in danger, chemicals such as adrenalin and cortisol are released into your body.These chemicals help you to run faster, become stronger, and react quickly so you can get away from danger. It’s your body’s natural response to keep you safe and alive.
The chemicals (adrenalin & cortisol) may cause you to feel physical symptoms such as hot flushes, feelings of dread, trembling, dizziness, heart palpitations, faintness, a racing mind, shallow and rapid breathing. It feels very unpleasant.
Fight and flight mode is super helpful when you need to jump out of the way of a moving car to save yourself or fight a perpetrator that’s trying to attack you. But it’s not so helpful when you are trying to live your everyday life and fear and stress are debilitating you.
It can be very difficult to focus and navigate life when your sympathetic nervous system is constantly triggered by perceived threats (finances, relationships, workplace conflict, health) rather than real physical dangers.
The good news is, your body has a parasympathetic system. This is a natural built-in calming system and plays a vital role in maintaining both physical and mental health. How do you activate it? You got it, long deep breaths.
When you breathe into the diaphragm and prolong your exhale (which the Hā tool helps you do), your mind sends a message to your body to calm down. It is also called the rest and digest mode and is one of the quickest and effective ways for calming stress and anxiety.
So just to recap, we experience the physical and emotional effects of anxiety because it’s a survival mechanism. When we perceive something as a threat, the stress causes us to breathe faster and shallower, and experience mind chatter alongside other symptoms. On the other hand, when we breathe deeply and prolong our exhale, it triggers the calming part of our nervous system. It allows us to calm and ground ourselves. That’s why the breath is so powerful.