In the heat of a stressful moment, deep breathing is a powerful tool.
There is so much wisdom in the saying, "take a deep breath." But to go a step further we should try taking a full minute of deep breathing. In moments of panic, when stress is boiling over, our breathing tends to become shallow and insignificant. A signal characteristic of shallow breathing is expansion of the chest cavity. As I wrote about in our blog here, the elements of deep, diaphragmatic breathing are as follows: contracting the diaphragm, in-taking air through the nose and filling the lungs to the bottom, where blood is circulating. A signal characteristic of deep breathing is expansion of the abdomen and not the chest.
The benefits of deep breathing:
Cells of the brain and body receive a steady supply of oxygenated blood
The body is able to detoxify and release toxins easier
Blood circulates better
Blood pressure lowers
These are important factors in the fight against stress. Those benefits contribute to a sharper mind, less tension in the body and an elevated state of mind.
Another side effect of stress is tension in the muscles
Sitting for hours, typing and clicking and all the time tension is rising; you can feel it in your shoulders and lower back in particular. Here is a quick method for dispelling this tension: known as progressive muscle relaxation, it combines deep breathing with activation of the muscles to relieve tension.
- Start deep breathing, in for four seconds and out four rhythmically
- With each inhale, flex a different muscle group, starting with the toes and working up to the shoulders
- With each exhale, let go and then move to the next group.
This should see a marked improvement in stress relief both physically and mentally. At Hayes Family Chiropractic, we can help you manage the stress of your daily life. Deep breathing is a great way to start, but it is only the tip of the iceberg! Call our office in Dunedin to find out how we can optimize your body and brain in the fight against stress.
Dr. Chris Hayes, D.C.