Are you in a constant state of stress? With everything that has been happening in the world right now, I cannot blame you. Several things can trigger stress, such as sudden changes in your environment, feeling pressure, and anxiety. There is such a thing as ‘good’ stress, which can help us when trying to meet deadlines, or when our body acts on instinct when we are in danger. However, too much stress can be quite draining emotionally and physically. One physical aspect it triggers significantly is our breathing.
Breathing is usually an involuntary act, which means that your body does it even without conscious effort. This is important because our entire body needs oxygen to function properly. Proper breathing has multiple benefits such as mental clarity, better cognition, improved posture, helps the quality of our sleep and even aid in proper digestion.
But when our body is experiencing stress, it hinders our effective breathing. Everyone experiences stress occasionally, so when that happens, we will need to work on our conscious breathing. This requires the use of the cortex of the brain. Stimulating the motor cortex helps the brain stem to work with up and down regulators to improve things such as posture, pain regulation and overall oxygen efficiency.
Two Breathing Techniques
To help with that, I recommend using your diaphragm when breathing. This is also called belly breathing. I have two techniques for you to practice being able to get a feel for diaphragmatic breathing.
- Lie face up, with your knees bent and your feet flat on the ground.
- Place a book of your choice on your belly.
- Breathe in deeply and visualize the muscles of your lower regions of your thorax activating whilst taking the air in through the nose.
- Exhale through the mouth. Repeat this process at least ten times.
You should be able to see the book on your belly rise and down as you use your diaphragm to breathe. However, if you are still having trouble, I will share with you another technique which involves locking down your upper ribcage. Doing so will restrict the top end of the breathing cycle and will consequently work the lower end of the breathing cycle. To do this technique, you will begin as you did the with the first exercise, lying face up with the knees bent and feet flat on the ground.
- From this position, take one hand and place it underneath your buttocks.
- Then, take the opposite hand, reach across your chest and wrap it halfway down your upper arm.
- Again mindfully taking each breathe in through your nose.
- Exhale through the mouth. Repeat this exercise ten times.
Both techniques are truly helpful to stimulate oxygen throughout the body. I ask my patients to do this each morning when they wake up or whenever they are feeling stressed and have a place they can stop for 2 minutes. Firstly I make sure they have stimulated their neuro lymphatic points aka Chapmans Reflexes, you can literally do this anywhere at all.
For a better view of this exercise, have a look at this Youtube video.