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During stressful situations, our brain can feel like our worst enemy, causing us to shut down with anxious thoughts or heart palpitations.
Intense anxiety activates the sympathetic nervous system, a network of nerves that trigger the “fight or flight” response to perceived danger. But instead of protecting us, it is sometimes inconvenient — for example, if you’re at a job interview and trying to impress a potential future employer.
You should be sitting comfortably for this. I do it at my desk when I notice key symptoms of stress like shallow breathing, tense shoulders or an increased heart rate.
That quick second inhale causes the air sacs in the lung, which collapses when we’re done inhaling, to reinflate with air. As a result, the surface area in the lungs increases, and releases carbon dioxide from the body more efficiently. This helps to relax the body.
Long exhales cause a slight increase in pressure to the receptors in the heart, signaling the brain to slow down the heart rate.
This is called the half-salamander because your eyes are moving while your head is kept still, similar to a salamander’s behavior.
The half-salamander stimulates the vagus nerves — a system that controls your heart rate — and triggers a relaxation response in our body
This one is harder to do if you are at your desk or in the office, so it’s a great longer-term exercise to try at home.
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