Reviewing the effects of prolonged stress on the body and soul is a good starting point to help restore normal physiologically sound calm breathing.
Breathing is mostly automatic. While we work, sleep or play, our breathing takes care of itself. But we also have conscious control over our breathing, unlike other body systems such as the heart, kidneys or liver. Yet all these systems depend on breathing to deliver the goods – oxygen – to the tissues for healthy function, and of equal importance, to remove carbon dioxide.
When we become aware of our breathing – under stress with aftershocks or dealing with storm damage for instance – it’s due to moving too much air through the chest for the body to deal with. All our body systems suffer, not because we lack oxygen but because too much carbon dioxide has been breathed out.
Adrenalin pours into the system, heart rates increase, shoulders tense and muscles ache. Air becomes locked high in the chest. Jaws and face muscles tense up along with clenched abdominals and diaphragm. Upper chest breathing takes over. Not enough blood gets to the muscles and organs. You feel exhausted and irritable, sleep is disturbed. Your body is on ‘red alert’, shaky and tense. Sound familiar?
Not a pleasant scenario, but this is played out daily – probably hourly – in many post-disaster zones. All that adrenalin literally turns on major stress responses. And to make matters worse, breathing patterns adapt. Upper chest breathing becomes ‘normal’. Overbreathing becomes chronic. The circle is complete. Over-breathing itself becomes a major stressor.
You, a loved one or colleague, could be a chronic over-breather. An effective way of reducing the stress of ’over breathing’ is to understand how and why to breathe well. Make it the first step. If you’re experiencing frequent sighing or yawning, feel anxious and jumpy, achy and tired, this could be what’s happening to you.
A basic checklist to help re-balance your breathing:
• “When in doubt, breathe out”. BradCliff Breathing (Focus on the gentle out breath)
• Try the BradCliff: Stop Drop Flop Stop – relax your upper chest and nose breathe Drop – release both shoulders Flop – relax all over -- sit back and take 2 minutes time out/ breathe out
• Avoid or reduce coffee and alcohol as too much of either affects sleep
• Include a protein hit with every meal – and drink plenty of water
‘Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle’ - Plato
The allergy season is rife in the southern hemisphere with the month of November having the most pollens in the atmosphere.
It’s well documented that disordered breathing, especially overbreathing, increases circulating histamine levels in the blood. This acts as a trigger to asthma and allergies. If you tend to over-breathe this may predispose you to allergies or wheezing. Ensure daily practice of your good breathing techniques.
We know that if we are run down and tired we are more susceptible to reacting to whatever our allergy is. Get plenty of sleep and eat regularly.
• Take medications as prescribed.
• Breathe well to maintain health and a strong immune system, avoid over-production of histamine.
• Maintain a low allergy environment