Breath work is an often overlooked, yet powerful practice that reaps numerous health benefits, including stress reduction. This sounds like an obvious and simple suggestion, but most Americans don’t breathe properly – shocking, right? We are notoriously shallow breathers, meaning that we don’t fully inflate our lungs with our breath. So certain parts of our lungs are never experiencing the tremendous benefits of fresh oxygen flowing through them. Shallow breathing can have many negative affects on your health such as heart disease, respiratory disease and sluggishness. On the flip side, deep breathing can be used to improve symptoms of stress, anxiety, depression, digestive distress and fatigue. It also calms the nervous system, lowers blood pressure, increases mental clarity and boosts your immune system.
Use this simple technique to practice deep breathing:
• Sit or lie down
• Slowly count to four while you breath in through your nose. Hold your breath for 1 second
• Count to four again, this time while slowly exhaling through your mouth.
• Repeat several times
I encourage you to begin to become more conscious of your breath. When you’re feeling tired or anxious, begin to take long, slow breaths and I assure you you’ll feel better in a matter of minutes!
There are a variety of breathing techniques that are useful in different scenarios. Here is a link to 3 of my favorites from Dr. Andrew Weil, a pioneer integrative medicine and one of the visiting professors of the school I attended for integrative nutrition.
If you’d like help learning how to manage your stress, contact me for a consultation.