BREATHING AND STRESS
Although we all share the same air, we all breath in a completely unique way which has a direct affect on how our body and mind function. By optimising our breathing and transforming unhealthy breathing habits into a more healthy rhythm, we can feel better on every level.
Breathing is an automatic function of the body that is controlled by the respiratory centre of the brain. Fortunately, we have the ability to deliberately change our own breathing. Scientific studies have shown that controlling your breath can help to manage stress and stress-related conditions. Breathing techniques are also used in practices such as yoga, tai chi and some forms of meditation. Many people utilise breathing techniques in order to promote relaxation and reduce their overall stress levels.
The way you breathe, has an effect on your entire physiology, and with the majority of the population using only approximately 25% of their full respiratory capacity, it is no surprise that improper breathing is a contributory factor to ill health. Transformational Breath® helps correct old established unhealthy patterns of breathing and helps to access your full breathing potential, encouraging a fuller and more conscious breathing pattern, which can greatly enhance your overall wellbeing. Once the body is reminded how to breathe fully and any tensions within the respiratory muscles are released, the body will return to a healthy state, with an improvement experienced throughout the whole body.
Diaphragmatic breathing is paramount to the Transformational Breath® process. Encouraging a deep breath, so the abdomen rises with ease on the inhalation, is not only relaxing but has been scientifically proven to have a positive affect on the heart, brain, digestive and immune system. Other benefits include:
· Increases Energy
· Improves respiratory system (has had a very positive sffect on those with asthma)
· Improves digestion
· Stimulates circulation
· Balances flow of energy
· Regulates the endocrine system which stimulates the release of hormones in the body
· Regulates metabolism
· Improves skin condition - boosts oxygen for collagen production
· Boosts blood supply to muscular system
· Improves sleeping patterns
Mental and Emotional Integration
· Reduces stress and anxiety
· Improves and resolves body image issues
· Clears past traumas and dramas
· Stimulates the Vagus nerve which generates feelings of warmth
· Relieves depressive and negative thought patterns
· Improves self-esteem
· Encourages letting go of the past
Focus and Concentration
· Expands awareness
· Improves concentration
· Helps in making sound decisions by directing your attention more clearly
STRESS AND THE BRAIN
The Central Nervous System is made up of the brain and the spinal cord so how we think has a direct connection to the way we feel and vice- versa.
PARASYMPATHETIC AND SYMPATHETIC NERVOUS SYSTEM
Our brains are wired so that we are either in the 'relaxation, rest and digest' or 'flight or fight’ mode. When our brain perceives a threat, our core brain instantly shifts into ‘survival mode’ sending stress hormones like adrenaline and cortisol into the blood stream.
Our nervous system hasn’t quite caught up with the modern world, so this natural 'flash' response to danger that once helped us run from wild animals, is now reacting in the same way to email alerts, phones ringing, and deadlines etc. Keeping up with the demands of today's 24/7 technology can be very challenging and can often feel very stressful. Many of those in the business world of today, are operating in the 'fight or flight' mode whilst the 'relaxation, rest and digest' mode is being seriously neglected, the consequences of which, can impact negatively on overall health.
‘We have to actively exercise the 'relaxation, rest and digest' mode in order to access inner calm, and physical and emotional balance. When you are experiencing a state of calm, you will feel serene, focused, and content. After any ‘survival mode’ stress reaction, your brain is also wired to automatically return to this calm state’. Psychology Today, 2016.
In short, practicing full breathing calms your brain’s reactivity and recovers your brain’s strength. This in turn can help lower levels of anxiety and induce feelings of calm and relaxation. Breathing deeply will help activate the parasympathetic nervous system, helping to induce the relaxation response
TOO MUCH STRESS CAUSES DISTRESS
When the brain perceives it is under threat, it alerts the endocrine system to release ‘life saving’ hormones into the blood stream. Two of the main hormones when under stress are Adrenaline and Cortisol. A little shot of these hormones are more than often essential when the threat is ‘real’. But, over time, the body demands more and more of these hormones to cope with so called stressful situations.
What it is: In response to a stressful situation, the brain will signal to the adrenal glands to release adrenaline in the body. Commonly known as fight or flight hormone.
It’s function: Adrenaline is largely responsible for the immediate reactions we feel when stressed. “Imagine you’re trying to change lanes in your car”, says Amit Sood, M.D., director of research at the Complementary and Integrative Medicine and chair of Mayo Mind Body Initiative at Mayo Clinic. “Suddenly, from your blind spot, comes a car racing at 100 miles per hour. You return to your original lane and your heart is pounding. Your muscles are tense, you’re breathing faster, you may start sweating”. That’s adrenaline.
And so, along with the increase in heart rate, adrenaline gives you a surge of energy whereby you may need to flee a harmful situation and it also really focuses your attention on the task in hand.
What it is: A steroid hormone, commonly known as ‘the stress hormone’ is also produced by the adrenal glands.
What it does: It takes a little more time — minutes, rather than seconds — for you to feel the effects of cortisol in the face of stress', says Sood, 'because the release of this hormone takes a multi-step process involving two additional minor hormones'.
First, the part of the brain called the amygdala has to recognise a threat. It then sends a message to the part of the brain, called the hypothalamus and tells the adrenal glands to produce cortisol.
In survival mode, the optimal amounts of cortisol can be life saving. It helps to maintain fluid balance and blood pressure, while regulating some body functions that aren’t crucial in the moment, like reproductive drive, immunity, digestion and growth.
But when you dwell on a problem and refuse to let go, the body continuously releases cortisol, and chronic elevated levels can lead to stress. Too much cortisol can suppress the immune system, increase blood pressure and sugar levels, decrease libido, produce acne, contribute to obesity and much more.
Our cells become addicted to these hormones and therefore demand more each time we get stressed, so it’s paramount we exercise the relaxation response as much as we can. Practicing just 10mins of deep conscious breathing a day can see the body and mind feel calmer and bring many benefits to your wellbeing.
STRESS AND THE BREATH
The main role of breathing is to take in oxygen and to expel carbon dioxide through the movement of the lungs. The primary muscle within the respiratory system is the diaphragm and the secondary breathing muscles are the intercostal muscles, the tiny muscles in between the ribs, and the shoulder and back muscles. The secondary muscles often get overused in breathing, creating stress and tension, resulting in tight upper chest, shoulders and back muscles, which can sometimes lead to troublesome headaches and neck pains.
When a person is under stress, their breathing pattern changes. Typically, an anxious person takes small, shallow breaths, using their shoulders rather than their diaphragm to move air in and out of their lungs. This style of breathing disrupts the balance of gases in the body and can cause feelings of anxiety. Shallow over-breathing, or hyper-ventilation, can prolong feelings of anxiety, by making the physical symptoms of stress worse. Helping the air move through the body, with the primary help of the diaphragm, helps activate the parasympathetic nervous system.
When a person is relaxed, they breathe through their nose in a slow, even and gentle way. Deliberately copying a relaxed breathing pattern calms the nervous system that controls the body’s involuntary functions. Deep and full breathing can bring positive physiological changes that include:
· lowered blood pressure and heart rate
· reduced levels of stress hormones in the blood
· reduced lactic acid build-up in muscle tissue
· balanced levels of oxygen and carbon dioxide in the blood
· improved immune system functioning
· increased physical energy
· increased feelings of calm and wellbeing
Copyright Aimee Hartley, Inspiration Space
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