How to Use Mindful Breathing to Understand and Control Your Emotions
How often do you think about your breath? The truth is, most of us don’t. That’s too bad, because our breath holds the key to understanding and even controlling our emotional states. And for leaders, self-awareness and self-control are critically important, especially now.
In a column for Forbes entitled “Business Leaders Around The World Are Finding Power In Their Breath — Here’s How You Can, Too,” AIIR Principal Dave Gloss describes the power of mindful breathing.
- Mindful breathing activates the parasympathetic nervous system, which helps you relax, slows your heart rate, and reduces your blood pressure
- Mindful breathing techniques can improve focus
- Mindful breathing taps into the neural networks in our brain that regulate our emotions
In a moment of profound stress and uncertainty, Gloss says, leaders around the world are finding solace and strength in their breath. And, you can, too.
Mindful Breathing to Understand Your Emotions
Take a minute to put your hand over your diaphragm and check in with your breath. Is your breathing slow, relaxed, and deep in your diaphragm? Or, are they shallow and high your chest?
We aren’t the best judges of our own emotional states. Checking in with your breath can give you the self-awareness to understand when you’re acting from a state of stress. And, knowing how to control your breathing can help get you to a better emotional state.
Mindful Breathing to Control Your Emotions
Gloss also shares his favorite mindful breathing activity, called the “victory breath.”
- Pretend you’re cleaning a pair of dirty glasses. Breathe out warm air using a “ho” sound for four seconds.
- Now, inhale the same way. Focus on pulling air deep into your abdomen.
- Next, close your mouth and repeat the same breathing pattern through your nose.
- Now breathe in for four seconds, hold your breath for four seconds, breathe out for six seconds, and hold for 2 seconds.
- Close your eyes and repeat this pattern 10 times.
If this breathing pattern feels familiar, it’s because it is common in yoga and meditation classes, but you don’t have to be sitting cross-legged with your eyes closed to use it. Gloss encourages readers to quietly focus on their breathing anytime they need calm focus throughout the day.
We are living through a moment that can be incredibly taxing — physically, mentally, and emotionally. Focusing on something as simple as your breath gives you the power to control how you respond.