Breathe Your Way To Less Stress - Here's How:
As we near the end of 2020, many of us, if not most of us, are probably under a great deal of stress. There are medical resources you can use to combat stress – if you find that it is negatively impacting your day-to-day life, we recommend you see your physician, religious leader, or a licensed counselor – but there are also at-home practices you can utilize as well.
Today, I’d like to talk to you about breathing exercises, how they work, and the research that supports their effectiveness.
Diaphragmatic breathing is a breathing exercise that focuses on strengthening the diaphragm, the muscle that helps you breathe. The technique directs your breath to the abdomen and is sometimes called “belly breathing.” When you breathe into your abdomen instead of your chest, you’re able to get a deeper breath – which in turn stretches and strengthens your diaphragm.
A 2017 study investigated the effects of diaphragmatic breathing on emotional, physical, and mental health. The participants in this study showed increased focus and attention and lowered cortisol levels. Cortisol is your “fight or flight” or “stress” hormone – so reducing it naturally results in relieving the sensation of stress.
At Well Theory, we believe in integrative health and functional medicine – treating the body as a whole instead of focusing on one symptom to combat. There has been an artificial and dangerous separation of the mind and body for too long in science and medicine – especially in surgery.
We believe in the whole person, the mind, body, and spirit that make us human. Our products and resources are designed to improve your overall health, function, and well-being – and harnessing your breath to improve your physiological health is one way you can put our methodology into practice.
First, find a comfortable position. This may be sitting upright in a chair or on a cushion, lying in bed, or laying on a yoga mat on the floor. It’s essential to make sure you’re practicing good posture while you’re doing this exercise, so your diaphragm has enough room to stretch thoroughly, and you can take the deepest breaths possible.
Place one hand on your chest and one hand on your stomach – just below your rib cage. Inhale slowly through your nose, and make sure to focus on moving the hand on your abdomen. The hand on your chest shouldn’t move at all, as you are directing your breath into your core.
Breathe out slowly through your mouth, gently tightening your abdominal muscles to complete the strengthening exercise.
Now that you know how to breathe, you can put it into practice. You can count your breaths both for pacing and as a form of meditation. Try inhaling for a count of 4, holding your breath for 7seconds, and then slowly exhaling to a count of 8. Start slow – try this practice for 5 minutes at first, then build up your practice length over time. Some cannot do this at first. Modify the count to your ability.
You can also practice visualization while you breathe. As you inhale through your nose, imagine that all the stress and tension in your body is flowing from your arms and legs into your abdomen. As you exhale, visualize that tension leaving your body through your breath.
If you don’t have the time for a targeted breathing exercise every day, sometimes all you need is one breath. If you’re seated at your desk, roll your shoulders back, and breathe in deeply through your nose. As you exhale, really flex your abdominal muscles to push the air out, fully emptying your lungs. Envision your ribs moving toward the hips.
Looking for other ways to relieve tension? Try our new CBD Softgels. CBD is a natural stress reducer, pain reliever, and anti-inflammatory. It gently engages your endocannabinoid system – your body’s internal regulatory system – to promote balance and well-being. These softgels are designed to absorb quickly for maximum benefits, with no added ingredients.
Dr. Meredith Warner is the creator of Well Theory and The Healing Sole. She is a board-certified Orthopedic Surgeon and Air Force Veteran.
She is on a mission to disrupt traditional medicine practices and promote betterment physically, spiritually and mentally to many more people. She advocates for wellness and functional health over big pharma so more people can age vibrantly with more function and less pain.
At Well Theory, Our surgeon-designed products are FDA Registered and formulated to help people:
- Manage the symptoms of musculoskeletal pain
- Recover vibrantly from orthopedic related surgeries
- Fill the gaps in our daily diets
- Manage pain associated with inflammation
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