Heart racing, breath coming short and fast, palms sweaty, nausea in your stomach, tightness in the your chest...we've all experienced the physical sensations associated with stress. Did you know that there is a really simple exercise that you can do to reduce the physical symptoms that you feel as a result of your fight or flight mechanics? And this exercise doesn't need any special equipment or even a quiet space, you can do it wherever you are, even in the midst of a crowded tube train.
Step one - close your eyes and place your left hand on your heart and your right on your solar plexus, the fleshy point that you can feel in the middle of your rib cage.
Step two - Inhale slowly through the nose to the count of 4.
Step three - Exhale slowly through the mouth to the count of 6.
Repeat until you feel your physical sensations subside.
This simple act of extending your exhalations sends a message to your brain to relax and so your body responds to this message. So often we focus on our inhale especially when stressed we tend to gasp in air and not focus on releasing but actually the exhale is where the magic happens and tension releases.
When I gave birth to my daughter I used this exercise throughout my 36 hour labour and it was instrumental in allowing me to relax and give birth naturally. I'd love to know if this simple exercise works for you, please feel free comment with your experiences.