The calm state generally occurs in the range of 6-12 breaths per minute.
Calm breathing, measured as breathing consistently slower than your average rate, is the term Spire uses to refer to an ‘autonomically down-regulated’ state of relaxation. This state is characterized by parasympathetic activation, the “rest and digest” branch of the nervous system, which is associated with healthy blood pressure, sexual function, digestion, immune system function, and sleep quality. It counteracts the stress response, helping the body and mind maintain homeostasis.
This state generally occurs in the range of 18-24 breaths per minute.
Tense breathing is measured as breathing more rapidly (particularly exhalation) and erratically than your average rate and consistency. It is the term Spire uses to refer to an ‘autonomically up-regulated’ state associated with anxiousness, escalating cognitive load, and agitation or excitement.
This state is characterized by sympathetic activation, the “fight or flight” branch of the nervous system. There are some benefits to this state as it prepares the body to deal with threatening situations: helping store emotional memories, restricting blood flow to the torso, and preparing the body for physical exertion (exercise).
However, repeated or frequent tension is associated with high cortisol levels and blood pressure, adrenal fatigue, gastrointestinal disorders, and a compromised immune system.
This state occurs with greater stability and consistency in breathing.
Focused breathing is measured as breathing around your normal breathing rate but significantly more consistently than you normally do. It is the term Spire uses to refer to sustained attention or concentration. In this state, the sympathetic and parasympathetic branches are in balance. It is characterized by alertness without perceived threat.
This is a form of “positive stress” where our skills are being challenged but we can meet those challenges without feeling anxious. Being in this state has been referred to as being “in the zone” or “in the flow” when doing knowledge work.