Arousal is the state where sense organs are stimulated to a point of perception either psychological or physiological. It involves activation of the autonomic nervous system, the ascending reticular activating system in the brain and endocrine system, leading to higher heart rate and blood pressure ( Huang, Ulke, Sander, Jawinski, Spada, Hegerl & Hensch, 2018). Arousal helps in the regulation of attention, information processing, alertness, and consciousness. However, arousal level can be controlled through different techniques, for instance, breathing ( Huang, Ulke, Sander, Jawinski, Spada, Hegerl & Hensch, 2018).
Controlling Arousal through Breathing
Breathing control is a physiological or physical process and it affects the body directly. The mind and body are interlinked, so breathing control affects the control of arousal and how someone feels. If a person is anxious, they breathe from their upper chest. Breathing is shallow and rapid, it helps someone to breathe slowly and steadily from the diaphragm, hence it reduces anxiety (De Luca, Park, Bandaru & Arrigoni , 2017). There are different ways of breathing to control their arousal; first, start by breathing for a long time in through your nose and fill your lungs to about fifty-percent, then breath deeply to eighty-percent and finally exhale to a heavy sigh out your mouth. Second, relaxing jaw, pelvic floor, feet, tongue, hands, and shoulders (De Luca, Park, Bandaru & Arrigoni, 2017). This controls the relaxation level. One has to first relax the jaw muscle, then the tongue, pelvic floor, shoulders, and hands to feel more relaxed. Third, pay more attention to your exhalation as you breathe heavily. One will experience a sensation dropping down into the abdomen, and this sensation should be followed to the end of breath and identify the finishing spot. Fourth, progressive muscle relaxation, which helps to relax different muscles in the body. One must tense specific muscles, say the neck muscles and then relaxing them until one is more relaxed (De Luca, Park, Bandaru & Arrigoni, 2017).
Breathing slowly and coordinating patterns of breathing are hallmarks of relaxation. Slow respiratory rate helps in improving cardiovascular and respiratory function, enhancing exercise tolerance, increasing the sense of calmness, and well-being and improving blood oxygenation. The breathing control process engages neuron systems that slow the nervous system and sets in motion a calming response (De Gee, Tsetsos, McCormick, McGinle, & Donner, 2018).
Huang, J., Ulke, C., Sander, C., Jawinski, P., Spada, J., Hegerl, U., & Hensch, T. (2018). Impact of brain arousal and time-on-task on autonomic nervous system activity in the wake-sleep transition. BMC neuroscience, 19(1), 18.
De Gee, J. W., Tsetsos, K., McCormick, D. A., McGinley, M. J., & Donner, T. H. (2018). Phasic arousal optimizes decision computations in mice and humans. BioRxiv, 447656.
De Luca, R., Park, D., Bandaru, S., & Arrigoni, E. (2017). 0133 OREXIN MEDIATES FEED-FORWARD INHIBITION OF VLPO SLEEP-ACTIVE NEURONS-A MECHANISM FOR CONTROLLING AROUSAL. Journal of Sleep and Sleep Disorders Research, 40(suppl_1), A50-A50.