Hack your emotions (using breath) - Deepstash
Hack your emotions (using breath)

Hack your emotions (using breath)


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Hack your emotions (using breath)

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Emotion affects Breath

Anxiety, anger and distress create rapid breathing as a "fight or flight" response to increase oxygen in our system.

A calm nervous system creates slow, deep, relaxed breathing to supply the required oxygen to the system, using least effort. The oxygen requirement is much less compared to what is needed for fight/flight.


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Breath affects Emotion

A study was conducted asking people to breathe in particular "patterns" and they were asked to report the associated feeling.

Surprisingly, what they reported corresponded to the right emotion, even though they weren't aware of the patterns.


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Breath responds to Smells

Breathing is not just about oxygen, it's also how we receive odors which contain important sensory information.

When we encounter a rotten smell like decomposting eggs or a dead rat, we automatically start to breathe fast and shallow. This is because our body is trying to invoke the 'flight' response so that we move away from this potential threat (bacteria or nearby predators).

On the other hand, scents like roses or fresh bread leads to slow, long breaths (inviting you near the smell).


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One study analyzed 9,500 people watching 16 different films, from rom coms to horror, and looked at the air composition throughout the film.

Suspenseful moments showed upticks in CO2 and isoprene, a chemical associated with the tensing of muscles. Isn't that fascinating?


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Breath <=> Emotion

Understanding this bi-directional relationship can be really helpful.

Try this simple exercise.

  • Be aware of your emotions throughout the day: while working, going out or watching a movie.
  • Observe your breath, does it differ with emotion (angry, happy, stressed, irritated)?

With practice, you can consistently be aware of your emotions and breath.

  • When you notice an undesirable emotion, consciously change your breathing pattern (slow, deep, effortless) and verify if this alters your emotion in any way.


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