My thoughts on breathing...
A bit more information as it occurs to me about how breathing impacts your health and well-being. If you have questions or want me to address a particular topic, please don't hesitate to contact me!
Sweaty palms, heart racing, dry mouth, butterflies in stomach. Maybe its a big presentation at work. Maybe its your first competition. Or your 20th. Whatever it is, you chalk it up to nerves and hope you can overcome them to finish strong. Whether delivering the presentation or sitting at the start line, those "nerves" you feel is your body preparing your for "flight or fight." It's the body's natural stress response and it has been with us since the days of running from sabre-tooth tigers. Only the presentation or race isn't life or death (thankfully) - unfortunately our bodies don't know the difference. It's easy to get caught up in the cascade of sympathetic nervous system overload - it starts with those little thoughts of doubt that creep in, the breathing rate speeds up, the heart follows, and palms (and underarms) start to sweat. You try to focus with a few deep breaths, but that only makes it worse. Now you are light-headed and the start gun has gone off - or the mic has been passed to you. So how can you break the cycle and boost your performance? The answer of course is to breathe to succeed! By spending a minute or two focusing on a calm, relaxed breathing pattern, you can settle that fight or flight response, clear your head and allow your body to absorb all the oxygen your breathing in. Rapid, panicky breathing leads to altered respiratory chemistry which ultimately leads to decreased oxygen delivery to the places that need it most - the brain, the gut and muscles. Leaving you feeling weak, foggy in the head and lacking confidence. The next time you feel a case of the nerves coming on, try this exercise and you too can breathe to succeed!
1. Sit (or stand) with your body in neutral - wiggle your toes, your knees, your shoulders a little bit to unlock them
2. Rest your tongue behind your top teeth (say the letter "n" to yourself) to relax your jaw
3. Place your hands on your belly
4. Breathe gently in through your nose and into your hands; feel your belly expand slightly as you do so. Keep your chest still
5. Exhale effortlessly through the nose, keeping your breath silent
6. Allow for a brief pause before you breathe in a small, gentle breath again
7. Repeat until you feel your pulse settle and your mind clear
I'm a physiotherapist who is passionate about educating anyone and everyone about the impact breathing has on our health.