Tag Archives: stress

Laugh, and Breathe Better!

3936683753_977f0e6c6b_z-300x300We all know laughter is good for us, but a strong tie has been made between laughter and breathing. From the Philippine Star comes a story on Laughing and Stress Relief.

According to Dr. Madan Kataria, quoted in the story, “If we can learn to change our breathing pattern from shallow to deep, we can easily alter our body arousal system. With deep breathing, [your] body will not experience stress response, even if we have disturbing thoughts. Therefore, by changing the breathing pattern from chest to abdomen, we can change our reaction to stressful thoughts. Most Laughter Yoga exercises are designed to bring awareness of laughter in the belly, which helps to move the diaphragm. Therefore, belly laughing shifts our breathing pattern from the upper chest to belly breathing.”

The combination of laughter exercises with breathing and stretching exercises derived from yoga comprises Laughter Yoga. Yoga teachings say, according to the article, that “we are alive because of the life-sustaining energy force known in yoga as prana. It enters our body through breathing and flows through the energy channels called nadis, very much like the Chinese chi, which flows through meridians.”

Regardless of whether or not you study yoga, it has been established that motion creates emotion. Think about it. The direct link between the body and the mind has also been clearly proven. Whatever happens to your mind, happens to your body. For example, if you observe depressed and sad people, their bodies are also depressed. They walk slowly, talk slowly; all their bodily movements are slower.

Dr. Kataria said in the article that father often told him, “If you are sad, don’t sit idle, keep doing some physical work, go for a walk or jog, and you will feel better.” He did feel better by keeping his body active. This proves the two-way link between body and mind: If we can change the quality of our thoughts, then we can change our body behavior. For each type of thought pattern, there is an appropriate body behavior. If we can bring a change in bodily behavior by changing physical gestures voluntarily we will experience peace in our minds.

The lesson? Laughter truly is the best medicine!

Breathing a Huge Sigh

2272211604_249ac351fd_z-300x225Interesting new research has emerged about the importance of the lowly sigh. We all do it,

and for a variety of reasons. In a story on the website MedIndia – Network for Health, sighing actually increases the flexibility of the human breathing system.

The article explains, “Scientists have found that sighing resets breathing patterns that are getting out of whack and keep our respiratory system flexible.”

The study was undertaken by researchers at the University of Leuven in Belgium. They rigged up eight men and 34 women with sensor-equipped shirts that recorded their breathing, heart rates and blood carbon dioxide levels over 20 minutes of quiet sitting.

What the scientists were looking for were specific changes over one-minute periods encompassing sighs that could confirm or contradict the ‘re-setter hypothesis’ for the function of sighing.
“Our results show that the respiratory dynamics are different before and after a sigh. We hypothesize that a sigh acts as a general re-setter of the respiratory system,” said Elke Vlemincx, one of the co-authors.

The re-setter hypothesis is based on the idea that breathing is an inherently dynamic and chaotic system, with all sorts of internal and external factors changing how much oxygen we need and keeping our lungs healthy and ready for action.
According to researchers, when breathing is in one state for too long, the lungs deteriorate. They become stiffer and less efficient in gas exchange.

So, in times of stress, when breathing is less variable, a sigh can reset the respiratory system and loosen the lung’s air sacs, or alveoli, which may be accompanied by a sensation of relief.
Fascinating stuff, this breathing.

The study was published in a recent issue of the journal Biological Psychology.

Click here to read more.

Curing Email Apnea

3062892657_2f0ce222d4_o-300x181A while back I heard a funny and yet disturbing term – “Email Apnea.” This term was coined3062892657_2f0ce222d4_o by Linda Stone a few years ago after she noticed that she held her breath while opening emails. She also noticed that nearly everyone else that she observed was doing the same thing.

Unfortunately, this affliction is not just limited to opening emails. It pervades nearly every aspect of our lives, from waiting to see who’s number comes up on caller-id when the phone rings to, to getting caught behind a slow driver when you are in a hurry.

The other day, my laptop hard drive made it clear that it was in its death-throes. I had a fair amount of work on it that was not backed up. I quickly attached a back-up drive, which promptly informed me that it would take six minutes to copy the files. About 2 minutes in I realized that I had stopped breathing as I watched the seconds tick by – apparently thinking that suffocating myself would move those bits across the cable just a bit faster.

Once you begin to develop an awareness of your breath, you begin to notice more and more often the situations that cause you to hold your breath – and there are hundreds of them. In many cases not only is holding your breath counter-productive, but focusing on your breath can actually be extremely beneficial. That is why athletes, actors, musicians, and performing artists of all kinds integrate these techniques into their disciplines. Of course the breath is critical to providing energy to your muscles, but it also has a dramatic effect on your emotions, your ability to manage stress and anxiety, and it is also the doorway to that in-the-moment creative space referred to as the zone.

Develop an awareness of your breath. It will become a very powerful resource in those moments where you really need it and can dramatically impact your health, emotions, and physical performance. Once you begin to become aware of the moments and situations that are stealing your breath, you’ll realize that most of them make about as much sense as holding your breath when you open an email!

To learn how to start developing your breath awareness, download our free “Get Started Now” e-book.

It’s Spring! Breathing Reminders for Nearly Everything!

perfectHere at PerfectBreathing.com, we cover a lot of territory when it comes to using the breath perfectto improve your life. In our vast Articles Library, we offer myriad ways to take advantage of the breath’s powerful effect on every dimension of your life, especially this time of year. Spring is time for renewal. cleaning out the unwanted, changing bad habits, and planting new seeds for a fruitful year. We can help.

Trying to keep those almost-forgotten New Year’s resolutions? Try our Reaching Your Goals in the New Year or Your Best Year Ever – One Breath at a Time.

Want to improve your golf score, tennis serve, batting average or overall physical performance? We’ve got it here. Check out Breathing Your Way to Olympic Gold, Breathing and Sports Performance, or Ed Viesturs – The Thin Air of Everest, among many in our Performance section.

Are you just starting to work out again after the long winter and dealing with a little pain? Try How to Cope with Pain and Physical Therapy and Three-Dimensional Breathing for some insight.

Taking a relaxing vacation this summer, but are afraid to fly? Visit Control Your Fear of Flying.

Planning a summer wedding but finding the stress too much to deal with? Try Summer Wedding Stress Relief.

Just want to feel better? We suggest Let Breathing Help Control the Body’s Healing Process, Nudge Down High Blood Pressure, or Health and Healing: Just a Breath Away.

And feel free to just ramble through these informative pieces in a variety of useful categories. Drop them into your company newsletter, print them out and put them on the refrigerator, or email them to your friends and family in need.

Life is better when you breathe well.

How can you relieve stress? Awareness!

446622_13920854-300x225I believe that the most powerful concept that we addressed in the book “Perfect Breathing: Transform Your Life One Breath at a Time” was the concept of awareness. Not that this was our brain-child – I think someone beat us to the punch by five or ten thousand years – but it is hands down the most important tool at our disposal when it comes to making changes, improving our lives, and dealing with stress.

Without awareness, we are wandering around in the dark without any reference point. And if you are trying to get somewhere, it is very helpful (read that essential) that you know where you are starting from. Awareness provides you with that critical information, i.e. “where am I right now?” and “what is the state of my mind, body, emotions, and spirit?”

We feel strongly that developing an awareness of your breath is the most practical, efficient, and accessible method of developing mind/body awareness and devote a considerable amount of ink in “Perfect Breathing” to helping people accomplish that.

A recent guest post at the dailypress.com by Mike Verano, a thymus cancer survivor provides some really valuable perspective on the subject of stress and awareness as well as one of the most often asked questions “How do I deal with stress?”

Mike provides three great tips. You can read them for yourself here, but I’ll summarize them for you:

First, forget about getting rid of stress or even managing it. It is ever-present and usually it arises from things that we have no control over. Instead, focus on something that you do have control over – namely “you.” In any given situation, the constants, the things that you always have control over are your thoughts and your actions.

Secondly, stress is not something that is thrust upon you. You are not a victim of stress. It is something that you create. Stress arises when our circumstances require a change of behavior when we would prefer to keep doing business as usual. Using the mindfulness technique of (figuratively) stepping back, taking a deep breath and asking the question “why am I stressed?” or “why am I angry or frustrated?” or “what am I resisting?” is an amazingly effective technique for diffusing stress.

That brings us to the third tip: Breathing. Your breath has the power to counteract the “fight or flight” chemicals that are coursing through your body and shift your thought process away from the “woulda, shoulda, couldas” of the past and the “what-ifs” of the future. It brings you solidly back to the here and now, where as it turns out, everything is actually happening. And to complete the circle, as mentioned earlier, focus on the breath deepens your awareness of your mind, body, and emotions, which in turn allows you to clearly see the actions and behaviors that are creating stressful situations.

So in honor of Stress Awareness month give these simple techniques a try and turn the tables on stress!