Stress Hack: Stop, Take a Deep Breath or Two

Slow, rhythmic breathing activates the vagus nerve — a large nerve that travels throughout the body and links your brain with your heart, lungs, gut, and other major organs. The vagus nerve is part of the parasympathetic nervous system, which slows down the fight-or-flight response and takes the body back into a relaxed state known as “rest and digest.” Blood flows from your hands and feet back to your inner organs, since your brain assumes you no longer have to run or fight. To practice slow, rhythmic breathing, breathe in for a count of 5, rest for a count of 2, then breathe out through either your nose or mouth for a count of 6. if this is too difficult, you can begin with a 4-2-4 rhythm and work up to 5-2-6.

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