MANAGE STRESS IN 5 MINUTES
If you are looking for a 5-minute solution to help manage stress that can be done anywhere, then this post is for you.
We’ll be triggering the Vagus Nerve using Deep Abdominal Breathing (DAB) – let’s get to it.
WHAT DOES THE VAGUS NERVE DO?
The Vagus Nerve (aka Cranial Nerve X) contributes to the autonomic nervous system, which is made up of the sympathetic (‘fight or flight’) and parasympathetic (‘rest and digest’) systems[i].
HOW CAN DEEP BREATHING AFFECT THE VAGUS NERVE?
There are essentially two types of breathing, shallow and deep:
Shallow: the type of short, shallow breath that occurs during a stressful situation, like a panic attack or very vigorous exercise. During this type of breath, you will feel expansion in your chest (at best) but not deeper into your abdomen.
Deep: this type of breath is characterised by expansion of the abdomen. This longer and slower breathing helps to activate the vagus nerve, triggering a relaxation response throughout the body.
HOW CAN DEEP BREATHING HELP MANAGE STRESS?
In addition to the physiological response to deep breathing mentioned above, deep abdominal breathing helps manage stress because you need to stop and concentrate to do it.
A 5-minute pause to perform a deep breathing exercise can do wonders to help you relax. As importantly, the 5-minute appointment you make with yourself to perform this simple exercise can yield a fantastic return on your time investment.
WHAT DOES THE EXERCISE LOOK LIKE?
I recently visited Enrico Spagolla, CMO at Biotekna (www.biotekna.com), a firm specialising in measuring and improving psychological and physical performance. Biotekna have worked with high performing individuals from universities to Formula One drivers and Premiership football clubs.
Part of their protocol is a 5-minute breathing test. This test (explained below) will help trigger the Vagus nerve and by extension trigger a relaxation response. By practicing and improving Deep Abdominal Breathing through this exercise, you can teach yourself to relax on demand. In a busy world, that skill can prove invaluable.
VIDEO: MANAGE STRESS IN 5 MINUTES
Here’s a short video demonstrating one of Enrico Spagolla’s simple exercises to help trigger the Vagus nerve and manage stress through improved relaxation.
This exercise can be done anywhere, and it’s a fantastic way to relax, manage stress, and instantly increase your opportunities to improve your performance.
- Start in a seated position where you can take 5 minutes and not be disturbed
- Set your phone timer for 5 minutes – start the timer
- For 5 minutes:
- Inhale for 5 seconds
- Hold our breath for 2 seconds
- Exhale for 5 seconds
[i] Seymour, T: What is the vagus nerve? – https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/318128.php
ABOUT JAMES STARING
James Staring is a personal trainer based in Clapham. James focuses on building the best version of you and inspiring you to new levels of health and fitness – regardless of your current ability or age.
James is always keen to share the tools he uses to assist others in achieving their goals and has featured in publications such as Your Fitness, Healthy and Hello! magazines.