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Are you breathing?

Of course you are.  But, you may not be paying attention to how you are breathing and you may not know the connection between your breathing and your level of stress.

Most of us breathe in a rapid and shallow manner. Our breath is from our chest. This is actually the pattern of breathing associated with chronic stress.  It is easy to develop shallow, rapid breathing as a habit and to think it is normal. However, such is far from the case.

Our Central Nervous System has two parts:

  • The Sympathetic Nervous System
  • The Parasympathetic Nervous System

The Sympathetic Nervous System controls our fight/flight response.  This primitive part of our physiology is designed to respond to immediate threats to our lives.  When a snarling, barking dog runs at you, your fight or flight mechanism is triggered. Adrenaline floods your bloodstream. Numerous changes occur in your body that prepare you to fight or flee.  One of those is rapid, shallow breathing.

So, whenever we find ourselves breathing in this manner, we can know for sure that we are in the grip of our fight/flight response. This is not how we were meant to live. Stress hormones are taxing on our body. Our creativity is diminished.

The good news is that you can shut off the fight or flight mechanism by taking only a few minutes to breathe deeply and from your diaphragm.  This is a quick and easy way to slow down your system, quiet your mind and open yourself to new possibilities.

Leadership responsibilities can prompt us to respond with our fight or flight mechanism.  I challenge you to take this on. Notice how you are breathing right now. If it is shallow, take one minute to breathe deeply.  If you liked the change, practice during the day.

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About Jack Skeen

Jack Skeen
Jack Skeen, founder of Skeen Leadership, has been coaching bright and successful leaders for close to two decades, spending thousands of hours addressing every imaginable leadership, business and life issue with wisdom and professionalism.

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