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How to Trick Your Body into Relaxing Using This Simple Physiological Hack

For many, January and February can feel a bit bleak. The holidays have passed, yet it's still cold and dreary, often leaving us more "on edge". We're trying to implement our goals and intentions for the new year but stress and emotional depletion can get in the way. Here is a simple and effective physiological hack for tricking your body into relaxing, an excerpt from my book Empaths at the Edge: Heal Your Soul, Awaken Your Intuition, and Become a Mighty Force of Compassion.

Your breathing does more than provide your cells with oxygen. The act of breathing has a direct relationship with our nervous system. When our nervous system is in a threatened state of danger, real or fabricated by the mind, our breathing rate shifts. We physiologically prepare ourselves to defend or escape. Unfortunately, this nervous system friend of ours does not distinguish between a physical threat such as a massive lion roaring only a few feet in front of you in the African plains and an emotional or mental threat, like your upcoming project deadline or handling conflict with your family. In either case, we are tensing up our muscles and taking more shallow breaths as our body fills with the "stress hormone" cortisol and adrenaline (the hormone epinephrine).

The incredible thing about the nervous system is the power to change the direction of this cycle as quickly as you can play the "reverse" card in a game of Uno. You can reverse this effect and enable the release of endorphins. Instead of tensing our body and preparing it for a fight or flight reaction, we have the power to provide our body with the "feel good" hormone simply by deep breathing. This naturally produced chemical invites us to slow down and feel more relaxed, understanding that there are no immediate threats. It has even been scientifically proven to relieve pain.

Just by breathing.

The key here is obviously not the breathing itself. We have all felt the instant relaxation flooding over us from taking a soothing breath all of the way into the depths of our lungs. It brings with it an invigorating reminder of being alive. The key is remembering to do so before your nervous system has a chance to send those cards in the other direction. To catch yourself as you are amping up... as you begin to feel your anxiety rising or face flush with anger, and instead of jumping right to the reaction, pause. Rarely does a situation require such an immediate reaction, and by placing a pause for breath within the interaction you are able to separate yourself from the contradicting energy. Whatever the trigger was that began to take hold is recognized for what it is, and you have a perfect moment in time to separate yourself and your energy from that of the trigger. In lieu of becoming the emotion, you recognize the emotion outside yourself. Instead of joining the energy, you observe it and retain your own.

At times when you are already aware of your state of heightened emotion and seek to return to a place of peace or acknowledge in advance that the environment may cause such a state, you can bring along with your the invisible remedy of breathing exercises. One of my favorite breathing exercises to do is very effective at reducing the levels of stress hormones in the body, is proven to heighten concentration and focus, and is even used by Olympic athletes and U.S. Navy Seals. It is simple to do and is called square breathing or box breathing.

Meditation & Breathwork Prompt: Begin by picturing a square, illuminated with a soft glow. Inhale slowly and deeply for four counts through the nose, hold that breath deep within your lungs for four counts, exhale slowly for four, and hold the exhale for four. With every inhale envision the fresh, cleansing energy entering your body... much like that first spring day where the smell in the air has shifted and you cannot help but fling open the windows. As you hold the breath in, picture the vibrancy and refreshment of that breath illuminating and recharging every cell in your body. Exhale while visualizing your worries, stresses, and fears leaving your body with the breath out from your mouth. Holding the exhale, see the flutter or lower vibration energy these emotions carried floating off into the wind, no longer within your energy field.



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I'm a writer, energy healer, and plant-obsessed meditating mama on a mission of guiding women to Heal & Rise! For more about my story...

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