Barlow's etiological model

Cardiac coherence is a breathing technique that aims to immediately decrease the heart rate in a particularly stressful situation. You can be fully involved in the regulation of your emotions in just 15 minutes a day.

1. What is cardiac coherence? 

 

It is a method like a “physiological balance” that comes to regulate the heart rate with our emotions. It aims to practice voluntary breathing, which will allow soothing of anxiety. The heart will then echo the breath, harmonizing with it.

It is at the intersection between relaxation and biofeedback (which is the rehabilitation of behavior through awareness of physiological reactions). The main objective of practicing cardiac coherence is to bring about a rapid calming.

2. How does it work? 

The heart is governed by the autonomic nervous system, meaning that it functions without conscious movement on our part. That is why it responds automatically, by speeding up, in an anxiety-provoking environment. The intervals between each heartbeat are then decreased. This time, between each beat is called “Heart Rate Variability“. When it is low, we have an increased sense of anxiety.

Cardiac coherence therefore allows, with the help of breathing, to regulate this heart rate variability. The heartbeats are therefore spaced out to find a slower rhythm.

3. For whom? 

Cardiac coherence can be used by everyone. There is no contraindication to practicing this method, on the contrary! It can be used by children, adolescents, adults and the elderly, even those with certain physical or cognitive difficulties.

This technique is particularly useful in anxiogenic situations, where the person feels their heart rate accelerating. On the other hand, it can also be used in prevention, and become a daily routine that will help regulate the heart rate and decrease the occurrence of rapid heart rate variability.

It can also be recommended for people at risk of heart problems, since the use of cardiac coherence helps to prevent certain heart diseases such as high blood pressure, but also reduces the risk of cardiovascular accidents.

4. How to practice it? 

This method does not require any special equipment. You can therefore practice it at home, in transport or at the office etc., independently. Cardiac coherence is therefore particularly easy to access and requires very little time.

If you’re doing it preemptively, make yourself comfortable in a quiet, calming place. Try to be in a posture that is comfortable for you, but for all that, can be challenging. Rather sit (or stand if you prefer); lying down is not recommended for this practice.

Cardiac coherence is therefore based on the so-called 365 method. 

5. What is the 365 technique?

3 fois par jour, 6 respirations par minute pendant 5 minutes. 

 

– 3 times a day, when to apply it?

The immediate effects of cardiac coherence last approximately 3 to 6 hours. Therefore, it is estimated that the time between practices is 4 hours apart. This leads us to practice cardiac coherence in the morning, in the noon, and at the end of the day.

  • When you get up in the morning

Our stress hormones are at their highest levels when we wake up. This is therefore the privileged time to engage in the practice of cardiac coherence, since it will decrease anxiety for the day ahead. It will also help prevent unexpected crisis situations of the day (evaluation, quarrels, …).

  • At lunch time 

Take time during your lunch break to give yourself 5 minutes to do your breathing exercises. If you can isolate yourself during this time, you will give yourself a short but valuable time.

 

  • In the evening 

 

After work, or after your day, take some time for yourself to take away all the tension of the day. You can do this as soon as you get home, to give yourself a quiet evening, or before you go to bed to deposit all your stress from the day.

 

6 breaths per minute

 

Simply inhale 5 seconds through your nose by choosing abdominal inspiration (i.e., apply yourself to inflate the belly), and exhale 5 seconds through your mouth. So you’ll be doing 30 breaths (inhaling and exhaling) per minute.

To calculate this time, you have several solutions. You can track, using your watch or the stopwatch on your phone, breathing in and out according to the time. If you are visual, you can draw, on a sheet of paper, a curve that you draw according to the time you are tracking (when inhaling the curve goes up, and when exhaling, the curve goes down).

There are also apps on smartphones, or videos on the internet that will help you keep up. There is usually a bubble/object/shape to follow, with a relaxing environment as a background.

 

For a duration of 5 minutes

 

Repeat these breaths for 5 minutes. Take this time, for yourself. It will only benefit you. After these 5 minutes, you can resume your daily activities.

6. What are the long-term benefits?

Beyond the cardiovascular benefits, which are far from negligible, cardiac coherence, with regular practice, brings many benefits both physical and emotional.

Indeed, we can see an improvement in the quality of sleep, but also, at the cognitive level, positive developments in memory, concentration and learning. So there is a reduction in attention disorders.

Practicing cardiac coherence on a regular basis will help create more dopamine and serotonin (pleasure and anxiety-reducing hormones) to reduce the risk of depression.

This method will lead to tolerance with less difficulty of physical pain. It is also possible to see improvement in asthmatic or inflammatory diseases. For athletes, it allows for faster recovery after training.

In a global way, it will allow a better management of its emotions, consequently to decrease, in a notable way, daily stress and anxiety.

15 minutes per day of cardiac coherence can then increase your quality of life.

7. Regular training

At first, it can always be harder to create a habit. Force yourself to do this exercise 2 to 3 times a day for a while. The benefits that cardiac coherence will generate will give you all the more motivation to continue this exercise. It is important to keep in mind the importance of taking care of yourself.

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