Effect of Respiration on the Return to Poise

I have three comparable sets of data measuring recovery time from the Upset state. Each are five hours in length. I began with a look at my base rate for recovery which meant that I used no technique to change my Upset state at all. I just measured and let me mind do its thing. Then I looked at logging what was on my mind during the Upset state. I did this by typing into Taplog what I was thinking in that moment. The result was some change, but not a significant improvement. Over a five hour period the time spent in Upset decreased by only 4.6 minutes. My third five hour period was measuring the effect of respiration on the Upset state.

What I did in each session was use Heartmath Pro to measure my HRV. I had the software set to indicate with a tone when I entered the Upstate state. When I heard the noise, I muted the computer, noted the time on a sheet of paper and picked up my Android phone which had the Breath Pacer app open and ready. I spoke what was on my mind which was captured on an Olympus VN-711PC digital recorder that I had recording the entire session. I then focussed only on breathing at 5.8 breaths per minute which is programmed into the App. Once the software indicated I had returned to Poise by showing a green light, I would turn off the Paced Breathing App, unmute the computer and resume work. I had learned through trial and error that those specific actions avoided any Freakback in which attention gets rooted in gaming the software causing added stress versus relaxing the mind and returning to Poise.

After each one hour session I combined the data manually into a spreadsheet with columns for time, reason for Upset, and length of time in Upset. The resulting difference in recovery time is shown here:

 Stacked comparison

Respiration as a recovery tool was far more effective. Versus logging, it provided 35 minutes more time in the Poise state for a 300 minute period. Versus baseline it delivered 40 minutes more. Looking at the difference from another view, this graph compares the number of incidents based on the length of time it took to recover from each incident:


There is a clear movement of the Respiration based responses into shorter recovery times. There was not a single incident over 60 seconds, and only three over 45. The number of incidents for logging and respirations responses in total was 169 and 165 respectively, so the recovery methods did not effect the number of triggers.

So as a recovery method from the Upset state, respiration alone is a powerful candidate in the building of a Personal Performance strategy. This is not a revolutionary finding, but it is gratifying to see mathematically play out in my own studies.

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2 thoughts on “Effect of Respiration on the Return to Poise

  1. I think its pretty cool that you’ve distilled the “goal” (Upset time) into a useful distribution and compared it across different coping mechanisms. Also, I appreciate that you’re using minute totals, as it is good policy to be up front in the charts about the amount of data being collected. I love these mini-experiments and hope you find a way to achieve more of a continual sample … it sounds like your setup has a large footprint.

  2. Thanks Rich, appreciate the comment. I used a parallel from fitness training where the time it takes to shift oneself from Upset to Poise is something that could be improved with practice. And if one can consciously practice it the next level is to make it an automated process, habitual. As you say, a lot of open ground in which to play.

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