"Power Breath" Is Better Than Deep Breathing for Relaxing Mind and Body

Most people are familiar with the technique of taking deep inhalations to relax themselves, but one breathing technique is more effective at returning your body to a naturally calm and connected state.

Jane McGonigal:  A lot of people are very familiar with the technique of slow breathing or deep breathing to try to relax. But it turns out there’s a breathing technique that is more effective than that. I call it the power breath. And the way you do it is that you exhale for twice as long as you inhale. So you might inhale for a count of four and exhale for a count of eight. If you’re really kind of worked up maybe you can only inhale for two and out for four when you get started and then you kind of slow it down more as you go. Maybe inhale for eight and exhale for 16 once you get really good at it.

And it turns out that the reason why this works so effectively to calm yourself down is that it triggers a switch in your body’s nervous system from sympathetic nervous system state to parasympathetic. And parasympathetic is a nervous system state that’s associated with what they call "rest-and-digest." Some of that I think is for more like "fight-or-flight." So if you’re in a kind of fight-or-flight state, and you don’t want to be feeling that way, you can do this power breath: inhale for four, exhale for eight, and switch. Just you get to decide whether you’re in fight-or-flight or rest-and-digest.

Or another one is "connect." They call them "calm-and-connect" state. And this has been used effectively by people for all sorts of things for stopping a panic attack, for reducing the symptoms of a migraine, for dealing with muscle spasms or muscle cramps. Anything you can do to get your body to switch into that calm-connect, rest-and-digest state it can help with that.
There’s a simple reason why this form of breathing helps switch your body into that calm-and-connect, rest-and-digest state which is that when you are naturally calm, when you are naturally resting and not thinking about your breathing, that is the breathing pattern that your body adopts. So you’re basically fooling your brain and body into thinking that you’re already calm and connected, that you’re already at rest by breathing the way you would be breathing if you were naturally in a state of calm and connection.

Most people are familiar with the technique of taking deep inhalations to relax themselves, but one breathing technique is more effective at returning your body to a naturally calm and connected state.

Dehumanization has been trending for decades. Here’s how.

There is greater social distance between Americans than ever before.

Videos
  • There has been a trend toward dehumanization the past four or five decades. This dehumanization has made it easier for us to see others more as commodities than as co-citizens.
  • This dehumanization manifests in four different pillars: political polarization, income inequality, automation, and marketization.
  • Whether through political splits, or income differences, there is more social distance between us than ever before. This distance makes it easier for us, out of ignorance, to treat others in ways that are inhumane.
Keep reading Show less

People who constantly complain are harmful to your health

Moans, groans, and gripes release stress hormones in the brain.

Photo credit: Getty Images / Stringer
Mind & Brain

Could you give up complaining for a whole month? That's the crux of this interesting piece by Jessica Hullinger over at Fast Company. Hullinger explores the reasons why humans are so predisposed to griping and why, despite these predispositions, we should all try to complain less. As for no complaining for a month, that was the goal for people enrolled in the Complaint Restraint project.

Participants sought to go the entirety of February without so much as a moan, groan, or bellyache.

Keep reading Show less

Italy to require schools to teach climate change, in world first

Should other nations start requiring schools to teach climate science, too?


Barbara Alper
/ Getty
Politics & Current Affairs
  • Starting September 2020, public schools in Italy will have to incorporate 33 hours of climate-related lessons into their annual curriculum.
  • Italy's education minister said it's part of an effort to place "the environment and society at the core of everything we learn in school."
  • In the U.S., not all states have implemented teaching standards that call for lessons on climate science, but about 80 percent of parents said they support such standards.
Keep reading Show less