See below for some tips, tricks and other resources from Melody and Jen.

Breathwork for reducing the stress response

First responders frequently experience extreme stress and are much like being chased by a bear. When it comes to emergency situations, the intensity has the same physical stress response on your body. In this short article, I’ll explain a little about this stress response and share an effective method to help reduce the effects.

Whether it’s an actual bear chasing you or whether it’s a situation that causes your stress response to kick into high gear doesn’t matter – your body’s biological and chemical response is the same. There’s a cascade of hormones, like adrenaline and cortisol, that get your heart racing, blood pressure rising, and other physical changes that get your body ready for fight or flight.

After the immediate danger passes, we often replay what happened in our minds. This can be just as stressful, re-thinking whether or not we responded appropriately or just re-living the trauma.

It’s not surprising how we handle elevated stress levels isn’t always ideal. Common coping mechanisms include reaching for something soothing or even numbing after a long day filled with multiple stressors. Some people reach for comfort foods like chocolate, chips, other junk foods, mac & cheese. Others go for alcohol and drugs. Some like going for a walk, running, or going to the gym. What we’re trying to do is distract and get some relief from the stress. We want immediate satisfaction, pleasure, or comfort.

What we choose to help us cope we likely learned when we were young. The good news is that we’re all capable of learning new skills, especially if they’re simple to do.

One of my favorite practices to deal with stress at the moment, painful or stressful memories and anxiety is breathwork. The best part of this method is that it’s simple, effective and gets the body and mind to relax very quickly. You don’t need any special equipment and it’s available anytime you need it.

Breathwork Method Basics:

  1. Inhale slowly through your nose, count to 4 (or 6), feel your lungs expand
  2. Exhale slowly through your nose or mouth, count to 4 (or 6)
  3. Repeat this slow breath pattern as long as you need until you feel your heart rate calm and regulate the rhythm
  4. If you can, close your eyes.
  5. Focus on your breathwork and clear your mind. If clearing your mind is challenging, imagine a peaceful place that you enjoy (Eg. beach or forest)

Using breathwork mindfully breaks the stress response to calm the stress response hormone cascade, and engages the relaxation response. It helps regulate your heart rate, blood pressure and helps you feel calmer. It turns on the parasympathetic response of your nervous system.

There are several similar methods. I prefer the box breathing method with a 6-second count, which has been shown in research to help bring the heart rate into coherence very effectively for most people. Do what feels comfortable for you.

Breathwork will start to come more easily the more you practice. Try using it during stressful situations as well, and you’ll find it helps lower your stress on the spot. It can help you think more clearly and help you choose your best response to the situation.

If you’re interested in learning more about reducing the stress of all kinds, please get in touch with me to learn more about the Stress Mastery Program. There are many other helpful tools to help reduce and eliminate stress, and to diffuse situations. Book a complimentary call with me here.

Article was written by:

Melody Byblow
Registered Holistic Nutritionist
Workplace Wellness Consultant
Stressmaster Associate


We’re all recovering from something. Whether that be stress, anxieties, disappointment, our habits with work, food, substances, or traumas that have left us recovering. To live can at times mean to suffer. When we realize we’re all in this life together we can create spaces of comfort, ease, and compassion for one another. I am honored to share space with the She Recovers community for that exact reason.

#wereallinthistogether #recovery #arrivewithgrace

Jen Edwards 



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