A Framework built to give you a sense of calmness or alertness right when you need it.
Have you ever been stressed out at work, and your friend told you to take a deep breath and relax? Although your friends had your best intentions, they just gave you the worst advice for calming down during stressful moments.
The breath is a fantastic tool for changing your sense of calmness or alertness at the moment, but taking a deep breath is a bad idea! Before I tell you why taking a deep breath is a bad idea, let’s examine what happens when you breathe.
When you breathe in, a muscle called the diaphragm moves down to make more room for oxygen in your lungs. As a result, there is more space in your heart for blood to flow, so blood flows slower through the heart. A group of neurons in your heart relay a message to your brain about the slowdown, and your brain sends a signal back to speed up your heart rate.
Conversely, when you breathe out, your diaphragm moves up. There is less space for your heart in the thoracic cavity, so blood flows faster through it. The neurons in your heart send a signal to your brain about the increased blood flow rate, and your brain sends a signal back to slow down your heart rate.
Now that you understand the mechanism behind how breathing impacts your heart rate, you can see how taking a long deep inhale increases your heart rate and makes you more alert. This is not what you want when you need to calm down.
Therefore, if you want to calm down, make your exhales longer than your inhales. Or exhale out more vigorously.
You can also use this principle for cadenced breathing over a short to moderate amount of time (1-10 minutes).
Inhale for 3s, hold for 1s, exhale for 6s
Inhale for 2s, hold for 1s, exhale for 4-5s
Now that you are equipped with a science-backed tool for regulating stress, try it and share it with a colleague who needs to breathe out their stress!
Leaders like yourself also struggle with mental health; take this time to use this Framework for yourself first and foremost.
For a stressed-out team, founders need to take on a coach-type role to better support their people, so share this Framework with your team.