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Unaddressed chronic stress can put not only your general health and wellbeing at risk, but can also sabotage your weight loss goals. 

Chronic stress is toxic to your body. Persistently high levels of cortisol and other fight or flight hormones can lead to such problems as mood disorders, digestive ailments, headaches and sleep disturbances.

Our bodies are effective at dealing with acute, short lived stressors. The chronic daily stress that constantly makes you feel under attack, putting your body in heightened state of alert.

How does this work?

The central nervous system has a negative feedback loop to maintain homeostatic balance in heart rate and blood pressure when interacting with the environment. If constantly overstimulated, the feedback loops become less sensitive such as with chronic stress, leaving it less resilient. This has a lot to do with the control of the parasympathetic nervous system and the sympathetic nervous system which respond to stress by turning on or off certain bodily functions in response to demand.

One way to tap into this part of the nervous system, more specifically the parasympathetic nervous system through the vagus nerve, is through deep, slow breathing techniques.

Breathwork, is in fact, a simple and scientifically proven way to slow your breathing, which in turn calms the nervous system.

A study out of Brigham and Young reports that Resonance Frequency (RF) breathing is more effective than other breathing techniques in maximizing Heart Rate Variability (HRV), a key biomarker indicating how you’re responding to the environment. HRV is the variation in time intervals between heart beats. And, greater fluctuations in the interval between beats indicate a healthy balance in our nervous system and an ability to respond to physiological needs. A higher HRV indicates a healthier heart, resilience to stress and better overall healthy functioning. In contrast, a lower HRV, suggests less responsiveness to physiological needs, predicts higher mortality and can indicate a general anxiety disorder, depression or chronic stress.

Essentially, in resonant breathing, breath rate is slowed to about 6 breaths per minute and the point that optimizes HRV. Normally we breath 12 to 20 per minute, so essentially this is cutting that in half. Resonance frequency breathing works by increasing vagal tone which controls the  parasympathetic nervous system and HRV.

How to practice Resonant Frequency (RF) breathing…

  1. Start by sitting or lying down comfortably.
  1. Breath in through your nose and fill your chest with air, allow the abdomen to relax and expand and slowly exhale through pursed lips emptying your chest.
  1. Focus on the breath breathing in for 4 seconds and exhaling for 6 seconds

Benefits of Resonant breathing:

  1. Can lower blood pressure, by lowering heart rate as you are breathing slowly.
  1. Helps to control anxiety by decreasing heart rate and increasing the parasympathetic nervous system which has a relaxing effect on your mind and body.
  1. Stimulates the vagus nerve which is believed to promote a calm mind, helping body and mind heal. Can help with some disease states, such as leaky gut.
  1. Emotional and mood control being able to control your breath and heart rate can help when you are emotionally triggered by something. Can help you control your response to situations throughout the day.
  1. Minimize the effect that stress has on your state of mind.

Favorite Apps for Breathwork and Meditation

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