It’s very hard to use willpower or talk yourself out of feeling stressed—the mind is really bad at telling itself what to do. But in the video above, Dr. Jane Tornatore, PhD, a psychotherapist in private practice, shows us a powerful tool that help you control how your mind and body react to stress.
While we’ve all heard the advice, “Take a deep breath,” and noticed how our breath changes when we are angry or stressed, many of us have not learned how to use our breathing to change how we feel.
Breathing techniques decrease stress and regulate our bodies’ level of the stress hormone cortisol, lessen anxiety and depression, increase happiness and optimism, and strengthen our ability to regulate our emotions. The breath is linked to our autonomic nervous system and daily breathing exercises activate the parasympathetic nervous system, which is associated with a more peaceful mind.
Before you do the quick breathing exercise, Dr. Tornatore recommends that you briefly close your eyes and notice how much stress you’re feeling, rating it on a scale of 1 to 10. Then put your palms together as she describes in the video and take ten breaths using forceful exhalations through your mouth, as she demonstrates. After that, close your eyes again and rate how stressed you’re still feeling. When I tried it with her, the effects were immediate.