Stig Severinsen believes through the power of breath you can control stress, increase energy, perform better physically and mentally as well as alleviate pain. Not only that, he can hold his breath for 22 minutes…
Severinsen holds a Masters Degree in Biology and a PhD in Medicine, he has a profound interest in natural sciences and health. With this he has created Breatheology. Stig’s mission with Breatheology is to educate and inspire the world by creating a common ground for people interested in learning more about how better breathing can lead to better health, athletic performance, and even rehabilitation.
Here are some tips that both Stig and Fmr SEAL CDR Mark Divine teach.
Performance Zone breathing
Control of the breath is not just useful for arousal control, leading to a lessening of the effect of the negative impact of stress, but also in the positive sense it is useful to change your state even if the stress facing you is “simply” performance anxiety. Elite athletes and Navy SEALs utilize breath control to prepare for missions and events. The act of psyching yourself up physically and mentally includes deep diaphragmatic breathing, forced exhalation breaths combined with powerful visualization and positive affirmations.
Deep diaphragmatic breathing
Breathing is both a conscious and unconscious process. When unconscious we tend be do what is called “chest breathing.” This type of breathing is inefficient and labor intensive in that it requires more effort for the same amount of oxygen intake, lowering energy stores and increasing anxiety.
Facing a stressful event, we should switch to a deep diaphragmatic breathing pattern.
We can practice a deep diaphragmatic breathing pattern through a discipline we call Box Breathing. Box breathing is meant to be done in a quiet and controlled setting, not while you are in the fight. The pattern is simply a box, whereby you inhale to a count of 5, hold for a count of 5, exhale to the same 5 count and hold again for 5. You can start at 3 if this is difficult, or take it up a notch if easy. You should be uncomfortable on the exhale hold, and be forced to fill the entirely of your lung capacity on the inhale hold.
The benefits of deep diaphragmatic box breathing include:
Reduction of performance anxiety
Control of the arousal response
Increasing brain elasticity – flexibility through enhanced blood flow and reduced mental stimulation
Enhancing learning and skill development
Increasing capacity for focused attention and long term concentration
Relax, just breathe!
When you are in “the fight” you will not want to hold your breath. So we turn to what we call a Relaxation breath instead. In this practice you will drop the hold and just inhale to a count of 5 starting from the diaphragm then filling up the middle of your chest then finally the top as if you are gulping in a final sip of air. Immediately you will begin to exhale in the opposite manner – starting at the top and ending with a puff to get the air out of the deep recesses of your lungs. Then you do it again and again.
The relaxation breath is valuable to control the arousal response, calming the body and mind so you can remain in control, focused and present. If you practice it enough it will eventually become your natural breathing state, providing enormous physical and mental benefits over the long run, such as:
Long term anxiety reduction
Chronic pain reduction
Increased sense of well-being
Improved immune functioning
Enhanced lung capacity
Enhanced body awareness
Enhanced control over bodily functions
Enhanced sense of presence
You can practice the relaxation breathing exercise anytime throughout the day. It is great to do before a meeting, while driving, or now, while you are reading this!