The Power of the Long Out-Breath: A Soothing Tool for Everyday Life
In our fast-paced and often stressful lives, we all face moments when our nervous systems become overwhelmed by the demands of daily living. Whether it’s the pressures of work, family, or other responsibilities, we must have tools at our disposal to calm our minds and soothe our nerves. One such tool that we can learn from nature, especially from our equine friends, is the long out-breath.
The Long Out-Breath: A Lesson from Horses
Have you ever watched a horse, standing tall and powerful, as it exhales deeply, its nostrils flaring and its sides expanding and contracting with each long out-breath? Horses instinctively utilise the long out-breath as a way to release tension and calm their nervous systems. They exhale deeply to relax and to support themselves in processing experiences and emotions and ready themselves to return to the simplicity of grazing, and this is a lesson we can apply to our own lives.
Let’s talk stress…
One of the most remarkable benefits of the long out-breath is its ability to reduce stress. When we’re stressed or anxious, our bodies are in a state of heightened alertness, with short, shallow breaths. By consciously focusing on and extending the out-breath, we can shift from a “fight or flight” response to a more relaxed “rest and digest” mode, allowing our bodies to reduce stress and anxiety naturally.
Our autonomic nervous system controls essential bodily functions like heart rate, digestion, and respiratory rate. The long out-breath is a simple yet effective way to influence the autonomic nervous system. By extending the exhalation, we activate the parasympathetic nervous system, which promotes relaxation and recovery, helping us better cope with challenging situations.
Improved Mental Clarity
Consciously focusing on a long out-breath encourages mindfulness, which is a powerful tool for improving mental clarity and reducing the mental clutter that often accompanies difficult times. When we pay attention to our breath, we can create a sense of presence, allowing us to think more clearly and make better decisions. To not be stuck in the past or worrying about the future, but like our equine friends – totally here in the moment.
Incorporating the long out-breath into your daily routine can be a game-changer in your ability to cope with the demands and challenges of everyday life. By taking a cue from our equine companions and utilising the power of the long out-breath, you can reduce stress, regulate your autonomic nervous system, and enjoy improved mental clarity. Remember, this simple but effective tool is always at your disposal, helping you face each day with greater resilience and calmness. So, take a moment, exhale slowly, and let the soothing power of the long out-breath guide you through life’s challenging times.
Footnote: For some people, when they’re already in an emotionally heightened state, the long out-breath can be even more activating; if this occurs for you, and you feel safe to do so, notice what is happening in your body at that moment, any sensations or feelings that the breath is bringing up and allows these some time to sit and flow, before trying another long breath.