Tactical Breathing

Tactical Breathing

Hey, it’s Jackson here with more science-based tools and practices that will help you and your team cultivate positive emotion and therefore perform better. In this video, we’re going to talk about something that I call tactical breathing. There are a few different names for it, but it’s really a specific pattern of breathing that’s going to help you to downregulate your nervous system. And what that means is that the breath is kind of like the rhythm or the pacemaker, I sometimes say, for our nervous system. Downregulating is when we’re sort of up here and we’re sort of tense and energized, we have that anxiety or stress reaction, and we kind of calm down that whole system – the mind and body. And one of the most effective ways to do this is tactical breathing, or a pattern of breathing where your exhalation is twice as long as your inhalation. The reason that works is this basically produces kind of a calming or soothing effect when you have the extended exhalation. And the inverse is also true. When you kind of emphasize or take kind of exaggerated inhales and shorter exhales, almost like hyperventilating, right, it kind of picks up the pace, whereas this is helping to bring it down.

So here’s how this works. You do an inhale, maybe a little bit deeper than usual but pretty much your normal inhale pattern, and then you exhale for twice the length of the inhalation. And for me, I typically find this means anywhere from two to four seconds on the inhale and maybe then four to eight seconds on the exhale. So it looks something like this. And as you watch this, go ahead and just try and do this at your seat or wherever you’re watching from. So, you think breathing in, so…

So you can see, for me, that time the inhale was about three seconds, felt right before my lungs kind of filled up, and then I exhale for six. So you have to practice it a few times. The first time you might just let out all that air, but really it’s about slowing down in a controlled release of that exhale so that it can last the amount of time. So, there you have it. To recap, this is a very powerful breathing technique you can use just in the moment if you’re feeling maybe a little stressed or overwhelmed, but also as a more formal practice, maybe for two minutes when you first get into the office and sit down at your desk, or maybe on your way home when you get in the car from work. You do this for five minutes. You can do whatever pattern works, but try to get that ratio like I said of two to one, so you’re breathing in and exhaling for twice the amount.

And there you have it. So, what I want you to do now is try this and a couple of prompts as you do this. So, you’re going to do this on your own for three minutes, so that’s going to be three minutes. You can set a timer, just count, and what I want you to know when you come out of it is how do you feel physically and how do you feel mentally, sort of that internal weather, so to speak. How has that changed? You can share that with your groups as you debrief this. Then, I want you to talk about how you could apply this. And when I think about how you can apply it, what I often refer to this as are insertion points. When would you use this tool throughout your day? Like I said, maybe it’s when I get in the car after work or when I turn on Zoom to start a meeting, or maybe when I click off a Zoom to end the meeting, I breathe this way for one minute. Whatever it is, how can you leverage this and insert it into your day so you get the most kind of tactical and performance benefit?

So, there you have it. Tactical breathing. I hope you use it, make the most of it, and I will see you again soon.