KEARNY MESA, Calif. (KGTV) — When you're in a stressful situation, the first thing you might do is take a deep breath.
However, have you ever wondered why breathing slowly can help calm nerves?
Kaiser Permanente is teaching people why and how to manage stress through a mind-body tool called Biofeedback.
"Most of us experience stress at a certain point," said Sofie Blicher.
Blicher is the Supervising Health Educator at Kaiser Permanente's Positive Choice Integrative Wellness Center.
Blicher uses Biofeedback to show people how they respond to stress and how paced breathing can help.
The test measures the fluctuations of your heart rate and breathing rate among other responses.
Blicher said when you take a deep breath, you breathe down into your diaphragm, which triggers a relaxation response.
"So it triggers us to decrease the heart rate, decrease the blood pressure so you can better focus and think straight," she said.
The practice aims to achieve high heart rate variability (HRV) by getting the patient to match their breathing pace with the program's pace.
Blicher said high HRV means your nervous system is balanced, indicating your ability to adapt to and manage stressful situations.
The program allows Blicher to speed up or slow down the program's breathing pace to determine which pace is easiest and the least stressful for the patient.
"It's going to give you direct feedback on how you can breathe to manage and deal with physiological responses that you have to stress," she said.
Blitcher encourages everyone to practice paced breathing daily to improve their mental and physical health.
She said to start by doing a few rounds of inhaling for five seconds and exhaling for five seconds every day, eventually building your deep breathing practice to ten to twenty minutes daily.
"And [tailor] it to the time where you find it being useful so if you're having trouble sleeping at night, maybe you practice that pace breathing before you go to sleep," Blicher said.
You do not have to be a Kaiser patient to do Biofeedback. For more info, click here