Tips for a Healthy Body

Abbots McTimoney Chiropractic Centre

Chiropractic the McTimoney Way

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4 breathing techniques to help reduce stress

Studies have shown that the right kind of breathing can reduce our perception of stress and pain. Both the pace and depth you breathe changes your stress response: when you breathe fast and shallow your brain thinks that things not going well.  This state increases blood pressure, blood sugar levels and muscle contraction while decreasing immune function and digestion. The opposite happens when you breathe slowly - you’re giving your brain a signal that you’re in a place of calm and your immune function, digestion and blood pressure improves.  All it takes is a minute of slow breathing (aim for six breaths a minute) to reduce the stress state and stimulate the thrive state.

There are a few techniques to try below.  You don’t have to stick to the same practice each time, just experiment and listen to your body to see what works for you.  Aim to do at least one of these practices every day - even if it is just for one minute. 

One minute, six breaths. Consciously take six breaths over the space of a minute. This means that each breath should take about ten seconds to complete, in and out. If you find this a strain, maybe start with eight breaths.  Try to do this once in the morning, once after lunch and once just before you go to bed. You’ll slow your heart rate down, help activate your thrive state and replace a lot of that bad information with good.

3–4–5 Breath.  Breathe in for three seconds, hold for four seconds and breathe out for five seconds. When your outbreath is longer than your in-breath, you reduce the activation of your stress state and encourage your body to move into a thrive state. You can do a few rounds of this breath or extend it to take five minutes. Listen to your body and see what works for you.

Box breathing. Breathe in for four seconds, hold for four seconds, breathe out for four seconds, then hold for another four. Box breathing helps lower stress levels, calm the nervous system and take your mind away from distracting thoughts. It’s reported that Navy Seals use this method to control their stress levels.

Nadi Shodhan (yoga's alternate-nostril breathing).  Sit comfortably, with your shoulders relaxed. Place your right thumb on to your right nostril to block it and fully exhale through your left nostril. Breathe in through your left nostril for a count of four. Place the ring finger and little finger of your right hand on to your left nostril to block it. Release your right thumb and breathe out through your right nostril for a count of four. At the end of the breath, keep your fingers where they are and breathe in through the right nostril for four. Place the thumb back over the right nostril and breathe out through the left nostril. This is one cycle. Start off by doing ten rounds and increase as it becomes more familiar. 

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