A certain amount of stress is essential in life – it gives you the edge that helps you rise to challenges and cope with any minor crises you encounter. Too little stress can mean that you function below your capacity, but too much can make you irritable, tired, and ill. If you take some time to get to know your body and your breathing better, you’ll be able to reduce the daily wear and tear of stress – especially important during these anxiety-ridden times.
You might not be aware of just how much space your lungs take up in your body. There is lung tissue above your collarbones, stretching right down to your diaphragm. If you use only part of your lungs’ capacity of breathing, you’re denying your body, and particularly your brain, the oxygen it needs to perform at its peak, and you’ll find that your resources for coping with stress are reduced.
Take a few moments to find out whether you have a healthy breathing pattern. Sit down and put your hands on your belly. When you breathe in, you should feel your abdomen expanding to draw air into your lungs and when you breathe out, your abdomen should flatten again. Many people have an inverted breathing pattern and suck their abdomens in when inhaling.
Relaxed shoulders means relaxed breathing. Try tensing your shoulders by pulling them up toward your ears. Notice how tight your breathing becomes; pulling your shoulders too far downward or backwards has the same effect. When your shoulders are loose, your breathing is easy. Get in the habit of checking your shoulders regularly throughout the day, especially when you’re feeling tense. Let your arms hang down and roll your shoulders backward and forward slowly, making sure that they’re relaxed so that you can breathe well.
When you feel stressed, use this quick exercise for on-the-spot relaxation:
1) Breathe in deeply letting your stomach expand, shoulders relaxed.
2) When your lungs are full, sigh out gently through your mouth and let the exhale carry the tension away from the top of your body right down to your toes.
3) When your lungs are ready, let them fill completely, again allowing your stomach to expand.
4) Then sigh out slowly, relaxing your body parts one at a time starting from your forehead, then jaw, shoulders, arms, hands, stomach, legs, and feet. Picture the cleansing power of the exhale removing the stress from your body.
Adding a few extra Oxycise! breaths throughout the day is also a great way to relieve stress and anxiety. While you won’t want to do the Oxycise! breath as your normal breathing pattern, implementing the deep, full belly breathing component into your regular breathing will do wonders for your mood and overall health as you’re no longer depriving your body and brain of what they need most.