Stress Awareness Month

April is Stress Awareness Month (like we didn’t already know we were stressed??). To celebrate I am including an excerpt from my book, “Sick and Tired, to Healthy and Inspired: 9 Steps to Prevent Lifestyle Related Diseases” about the benefits of deep breathing. I included several chapters related to stress management because that is such a key component of health. Enjoy!

“Breathe, it’s just a bad day, not a bad life.”  Unknown

Breathing. I know, you are already breathing or you wouldn’t be alive to read this. The problem is that stress can cause us to stop breathing with our whole abdomen and only breathe shallowly in our chest. Have you ever noticed yourself holding your breath when stressed? I know I have.  

It seems silly to talk about learning how to breathe, since we all do it from the day we are born, but consciously breathing more deeply and fully reaps great physical and emotional benefits. Research breathing techniques to discover different kinds of breathing: with mouth open, with mouth closed, or with tongue behind the teeth. Count to ten, count to three, breathe fast, or breathe slow. Use the technique that works for you. Plain old deep breathing will work just fine and offer benefits such as:

Physical:  

  • Deep breathing brings oxygen to the blood. Why get three miles to the gallon when you can get thirty? Our cells make sixteen times more energy in the presence of oxygen than without.
  • Deep breathing removes wastes from the body. Taking out the trash is a good thing, and your lungs can do that for you.
  • Deep breathing massages the internal organs. Who doesn’t like a good massage?
  • Oxygen counteracts many harmful bacteria in the body.
  • Oxygen brings circulation and relaxation to stiff muscles.

Mental, emotional, and spiritual:

  • Allows relaxation. The nervous system switches from I need to fight a lion (sympathetic nervous system) to I’m going to digest this delicious asparagus sandwich (parasympathetic nervous system).
  • Some breathing techniques help release emotions from past traumas. Our aches and pains are a result of stored negative emotions.
  • Increases mental activity. 
  • Circulates brain chemicals called neurotransmitters that bring relaxation and calming.
  • Lifts our spirits.