Learn how five seconds can help you relieve stress and anxiety 

Mental Health | Recovery

First responders are always on the go, and the chances are that you’re reading this blog while accomplishing another task at this very moment. 

When thinking about recommended tips to alleviate the stress you endure in the field and at home, it has to be convenient to accommodate your fast-paced life. 

Making the time count that you do have to elevate your mental wellness is key, and that’s why we’re sharing with you a tool that meets you exactly where you are at and one you can access at any time of the day, no matter where you are.

5-5-5 deep breathing

Scientific studies show that controlled deep breathing can help alleviate stress and anxiety, as it sends a message to your brain, allowing it to calm down. 

When we get ourselves worked up or anxious over matters, which is a frequent feeling for first responders, it can be tough to calm our minds and bring us back into the present. 

“Research has shown that breathing exercises can have immediate effects by altering the pH of the blood or changing blood pressure. But more importantly, they can be used to train the body’s reaction to stressful situations and dampen the production of harmful stress hormones.”

NPR

What’s excellent about 5-5-5 deep breathing is that you can do it anywhere in the world and at any time. You don’t need any tools; all that’s required is breath. 

Here’s how to accomplish 5-5-5 deep breathing:

1. Inhale very slowly through your nose for 5 seconds

2. Hold your breath for five seconds 

3. Exhale very slowly through your nose or mouth for 5 seconds

4. Hold your breath for five seconds

5. Repeat the process

Repeating this cycle for as little as one minute can work wonders and calm your nerves, even while at work. However, it’s recommended to practice the 5-5-5 deep breathing cycle for at least five minutes or more for more significant results. 

When practicing deep breathing, try your best to control your thoughts. Aim to focus solely on your breath, but if your mind wonders, identify that it’s simply a thought and redirect your mind’s focus back to your breath. 

It’s great to practice deep breathing in a quiet place. Still, we understand first responders have very few moments of silence at work while serving the community or at home while tending to your family — so practice 5-5-5 deep breathing wherever you can.