No More Stress
In previous articles I talked about ways of coping with stress and how to recognise triggers for your stress. I talked about how to change your response to triggers and how to remove stress factors from your life. I also talked about different methods such as acupuncture to deal with the health implications of stress. In this article I want to address breathing, Tai qi and other meditative techniques which you can incorporate into your life to help deal with the daily stresses of modern life.
Simply sit in a quiet space remove your shoes and sock and breathe down to your feet, connect with the earth for a few moments and feel the sensations of the ground, it is amazing how this can make all your troubles disappear within a few moments.
Qi Gong, Tai Qi, Yoga and meditation all offer excellent ways of improving your health while reducing your stress levels. Find something that you enjoy doing that relaxes you and try to do it a couple of times a week at least. Remember when you feel you have no time to meditate or do Tai qi, it is probably the very time you need it most!
Breathing is of course something we all do without thinking, and many of us over the years have developed bad breathing habits. Most people over breathe (hyper ventilate) the normal rate of breathing per minute can be anywhere from 8-14, while some may take as many as 22 breaths in a minute multiply this out and the number of breaths per 24hour period has a massive range difference. 8 breaths per minute is 11,520 breaths in 24 hours while 22 breaths is 31,680 breaths over the same 24 hour period. So what?…you may well ask, too much oxygen O2 causes lots of health problems. Including
a normal breathing rate means the balance between CO2 and O2 is balanced the way the body likes it and is ideal for all the chemical processes that occur at a cellular level (thousands of different reactions occur per second) to keep you functioning normally. By regulating these gases you can perform at your optimum level.
Here are some simple Buteyko breathing exercises to help normalise your O2:CO2 concentrations (If you have any heart problems or suffer with Diabetes or other medical conditions please consult your G.P. before doing these exercises (see note below).
Observe your breathing when you become stressed and agitated, it speeds up and often changes from nose breathing to mouth breathing. Check how often you sigh and gulp air. When you are relaxed take note of where you are breathing from. Your stomach should move in and out, as you breathe more passively through the diaphragm. If you breathe through your nose (ideally) then the frequency and volume of air is less. By Breathing less you increase the concentration of CO2 (Carbon Dioxide) which has a natural calming effect, and reduces anxiety. By breathing through your nose you produce Nitric Oxide which only has a short half life and benefits you in many ways including keeping you more calm and reducing your susceptibility to viral and bacterial infection. Sit quietly in an upright position, feet firmly on the ground shoes and socks off, breathe through your nose normal volume of air and normal frequency of breaths. After observing this pattern of breathing for a minute or two do a controlled pause i.e. take a normal breath in and out (don’t force air out) then hold your breath until you first feel you want to breathe again (this is not an endurance test) avoid taking a deep breath (if you need to you held your breath too long) now for the next 3 minutes reduce the volume of air you breath to 75% of your normal volume and keep the frequency the same i.e. if you normally take 14 breaths in a minute keep breathing at that rate but at 75% normal volume of air. After 3 minutes you may feel some signs of air hunger such as butterflies in your stomach or mild tingling in your hands, this is ok if you feel anxious at any stage just take an extra small breath. Rest and breathe normally for 30 seconds and then do another breath hold or controlled pause. If you suffer with asthma, emphsema or other respiratory condition please contact me or another Buteyko breathing teacher to learn this system and dramatically reduce or eradicate your symptoms. I will combine acupuncture / acupressure and cupping to clear excessive phlegm and relieve blocked sinuses.
Be Nice to Yourself
Be Nice to yourself, remember, check what your expectations are and if they are reasonable or realistic, chances are they are not, so change them. Acknowledge your achievements. If your internal dialogue is in a harsh manner, one in which you would not talk to anyone else well then change it, be NICE, it will make your life and stress levels much better.
The world can be a harsh place, so try and make your world a nice place to be. There are so many good things out there, don’t get consumed with the negative.
Hopefully these articles will help to make your life less stressed, Keep it simple and be nice to yourself and surround yourself with people that do the same!
Please note that the breathing exercises included in this piece should only be practiced by those who are healthy and should only be repeated 2-3 times in succession and a maximum of 2 times per day. We cannot take any responsibility for anyone doing these exercises. If you have health concerns such as diabetes, respiratory or cardiac conditions please contact me for advice at [email protected].