Our bodies are burning out as many of us run our lives in “flight or fight” mode, constantly preparing to run away from stressful situations which I like to call our “tigers”. Don’t get me wrong, tigers are super cute, but if I was being chased by one…it’s only natural for us to want to protect ourselves. When we live our lives in this constant state of stress, whether it be mental, physical or emotional, the body doesn’t work as efficiently, and our digestive system struggles to absorb much needed nutrients. Our bodies can become malnourished and begin to scream out and let us know through a wide range of signs and symptoms.
It is important to switch our bodies into “rest, digest and repair” mode as often as we can for our bodies to feel safe and run more efficiently.
Diaphragmatic breathing is the best weapon I have against my “tigers”. If we are being chased by a tiger, we don’t have time to stop and take a deep conscious breath because if we did, well, that tiger would be satisfied.
Many of us have lost the ability to breathe deep, we need to reawaken this powerful weapon which lays dormant within us. For too long, we have been unconsciously holding our breath or breathing irregularly due to the levels of stress we put ourselves under.
Research shows us that when we take a deep breath, expand our bellies and deepen the inhalation and exhalation it can significantly lower cortisol, the stress hormone released into our bodies in response to stress or danger. When we breath deep, we are telling our bodies its safe and okay to digest food now, that “rest, digest and repair” mode is switched on. When our bodies are safe our blood pressure reduces, immune systems strengthen and we become calm in ourselves and to those around us again.
Some ways I include deep breathing in my everyday life are:
Take a quick breath
Stopping for mini breaks throughout the day to diaphragmatic breathe is a lifesaver for me. Whether it be 30 seconds or 10 minutes, every breath counts. I place my hands on my belly and inhale all the way in, feeling the expand on my belly and exhale all the way out. This helps me to calm my anxiety almost immediately.
Morning Yoga Sessions
If you can find the time, yoga is a breath-focused practice and amazing at switching us into “rest, digest and repair”. I particularly love Yoga with Adriene, she has such as beautiful soul, many breathe focused practices and short videos for those time poor, plus you get to do it in your own home in your pjs if you like at any time of the day or night!
When I first started meditating, I found it quite difficult for the first month or two to keep my mind and breath focused. Once you get the hang of it, it really reshapes your mind, you become more aware, make better decisions in life and it is a very powerful tool to learn. If you are time poor and don’t have access to nearby classes, there are guided meditation Apps such as Smiling Mind or Headspace which you can download or many on Youtube.