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Cardiac coherence: A stress-busting technique for the New Year

For a powerful effect, aim to practice the exercise for five minutes. Image: fizkes/Istock.com via AFP Relaxnews

If better stress management is one of your goals for 2018, learning to breathe correctly is a quick and economical way of getting there. Opt for cardiac coherence, a technique which paces your breathing and can lower levels of the stress hormone cortisol.

There are many good reasons to incorporate the biofeedback from cardiac coherence into our daily routine.

This somewhat technical term describes what is actually a very simple breathing exercise that can be used at any time to calm emotional storms and drive out stress.

The technique’s effectiveness is based on steady, paced breathing which controls the heartbeat and the autonomic nervous system, thereby reducing the intensity of the impact of stress on our body and increasing our immune defenses.

Cardiac coherence results in a calm state of mind by acting on the vagus nerve (part of the parasympathetic nervous system) which influences heart rate and blood pressure. It also helps relaxation.

The technique can be acquired with the help of a relaxation therapist or a sophrologist. It involves breathing in for a count of five, and breathing out for a count of five, while remaining totally focused on the act of breathing itself.

To enjoy the powerful impact of cardiac coherence, practice the technique for five minutes, i.e. six cycles of breathing in and out per minute, three times a day, in order to lower cholesterol throughout the day.

The method can be self-taught using apps and online videos, which can also provide visual aids in the form of bubbles, scenic landscapes, etc. JB

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