How to Breathe Through Adversity in 3 Steps is adapted from Joe De Sena's new book, the Spartan Way. Pre-order the book now to get a set of free gifts from Joe.
When you are in a stressful situation (facing adversity), your breathing tends to quicken and you take shallow breaths because your body feels like it’s not getting enough oxygen. But hyperventilation actually makes anxiety worse and can trigger chest pains, weakness, and rapid heartbeat. It can make you feel faint. All of this will make it more difficult to deal effectively with the adversity that is causing your stress to begin with.
Think about the benefits of being able to diffuse anxious, shallow breathing quickly when you need to in an adverse environment. Here’s an exercise to practice deep breathing in times of high stress:
Do fifteen burpees to simulate the rapid, shallow breath- ing of a panic attack.
- Next, blow out with a strong, deliberate abdominal contraction by pulling your belly button back toward your spine. This forces a higher volume-in breath.
- Now, relax your belly and breathe in deeply, allowing your belly to rise before your chest to ensure that you fill your entire lung space. Bringing a higher volume of oxygen into your lungs will relax you by stimulating the parasympathetic nervous system.
- Do it again and again as you feel your heart rate start to return to normal. When you’re relaxed with a head full of oxygenated blood in your brain, you are better able to focus and devise a solution out of the adversity you’re facing.
Excerpted and adapted from Spartan Founder Joe De Sena's new book, The Spartan Way. Eat Better. Train Better. Think Better. Be Better. St. Martin's Griffin (September 4, 2018)