These practices can take only a few seconds but they can make profound changes in your life. A large part of that has to do with brain chemistry. You’ve heard of fight, flight, or freeze. When we are stressed our brains go into survival mode. Our bodies automatically engage the sympathetic nervous system – heart rate increases, adrenaline is released, our guts tense, and we get ready to defend ourselves or run away as quickly as possible.
The problem with modern life is that our brains don’t know the difference between an imminent saber tooth tiger attack and too many deadlines and not enough time to get everything done. The stress response is the same.
When our brain and body is in emergency mode, creativity and problem-solving shut down. (Seems counter-intuitive to me, but I didn’t design the system :) ) These small practices we give you can literally reset your brain chemistry in a matter of seconds, allowing you to enter the parasympathetic nervous system (PSNS) that helps us rest and recover instead of fight or flight. When the PSNS is engaged, the heart rate slows, muscles and gut relax, and breathing returns to normal.
These little practices that we give you can short circuit the emergency response. Studies show that taking a few deep breaths engages the PSNS. Smiling while you’re doing it gives even more benefit. Visualizing that you are closing down all the open “tabs” in your brain, actually helps you concentrate. Spending ten minutes thinking about things you’re grateful for not only changes your brain chemistry, it helps you feel more satisfied with your life.
If you’re like us and love to geek out on brain science and its relationship to living the good life, this article explains a lot of the physiological stuff that happens when you take a few slow deep breaths. https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/neuraptitude/201602/the-science-slow-deep-breathing
Using these little practices even once can totally change your day. But using them regularly, over time, can add up to feeling more comfortable, fulfilled, and resilient in your life, even without changing any external circumstances.