One of the worst parts of a stressful situation is feeling your body start to rev up, knowing all along that remaining calm would help you deal with the situation more effectively. Nobody likes feeling out of control in a crisis.
Now there’s an app for that.
Enter Breathe2Relax; the newest smartphone app developed at the National Center for Telehealth and Technology (T2).
Breathe2Relax teaches you how to use diaphragmatic breathing to relax; a skill taught to induce a calming response in widely different circumstances including the treatment of PTSD and panic attacks, smoking cessation, yoga, child birth, meditation and sniper training.
You’ve probably heard your mother say, “Just take a deep breath.” when you were distressed or upset. This advice has been around forever, and it turns out she was almost right. Taking a series of breaths can indeed have a calming effect, but it has to be the right kind of breath. Take the wrong kind of breath and you’ll end up feeling dizzy and disoriented from hyperventilation instead of calm, relaxed and focused.
Diaphragmatic breathing, sometimes called “belly breathing”, is the right kind of breath to help turn off your stress response and allow your body to relax. It’s different from shallow chest breathing which can easily lead to hyperventilation. When you breathe deeply using your diaphragm, you are able to fully fill your lungs with the least effort. You take control of your breathing so that you are inhaling and exhaling in a slow and deliberate way. The act of focusing on your breathing, having control over it, and using your diaphragm to draw breath into your lungs rather than force it, all lead to a calming response.