Just Breathe to Ease Stress for Better Health


Wellness Wednesday with Michelle


It seems strange that we would need to remind ourselves to breathe as it is such a natural function. We usually don’t even think about breathing except when we can’t, or it is difficult. As if dealing with smoke, and any respiratory illnesses is not enough, daily stress is one of the biggest concerns affecting our health. Studies have shown that extended stress increases the cortisol levels in our body creating inflammation. This leads to increased blood pressure contributing to heart disease, weakened immune systems, and contributes to anxiety and depression.


When we experience stress, our breathing is shallow and concentrated in our chest, which can create muscle tension and headaches. By focusing on our breath even for just 10 minutes we can reduce our stress response to calm and relax. While stress can be from many different factors, the key is to notice what is happening so we can take time to do some deep focused breathing. To help, the article below from the Mayo Clinic explains the two types of breathing and suggests exercises to focus on Diaphragmatic breathing to calm during stressful and anxious periods.

https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/stress-management/in-depth/decrease-stress-by-using-your-breath/art-20267197


With moderate exercise, we focus on breathing in through our nose and out through our mouth to control breathing helping us get the most out of our workout. This technique is like the breathing exercises that help reduce the stress response. It is not necessary to do yoga or be able to bend like a pretzel, just sit or lie down and focus on your breath. This is easier said than done if you have a million thoughts running through your head, but try to count, feel, and listen to your breathing to refocus your mind and attention. For more tips on how to lower stress responses with breathing exercises, see the Harvard Health article below.

https://www.health.harvard.edu/mind-and-mood/relaxation-techniques-breath-control-helps-quell-errant-stress-response


As we get back to traveling for business and meetings, things will likely be different than our last business trip. This can create stress and anxiety, so plan to get in some breathing exercises. Many apps have timed breathing exercises to help reduce your heart rate and calm you when you need it.

I use my Fitbit Relax app which guides me through deep breathing both at home and while traveling. What will you do? Until next week, don’t forget to breathe!


See you next week!


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