Global Wellness Day: breathing, stress and sleep.
Breathing is quite simple: breathe in, breathe out, breathe in, breathe out… and so on and so forth. But breathing well is a different story, because most of us breathe through our chest and shoulders when we should be breathing through our ribs and diaphragm. And getting something we do 25,000 times a day wrong has its consequences. To take advantage of Global Wellness Day, and to find out more about the healing power of breathing, we spoke to Rachel Rose, Mind & Body expert at SHA Wellness Clinic. You may be surprised to learn that, in addition to all of breathing’s physically, mentally and emotionally benefits, breathing well is also an anti-aging treatment.
“Breathing has multiple physiological benefits, such as the oxygenation of the blood, the pumping of the diaphragm and the movement of lymph and cerebrospinal fluid. But it also influences mood. This is why emotions are manifested through breathing: a person who is laughing does not breathe in the same way as someone is scared. In other words, emotions change breathing and breathing can change emotions”, says Rachel.
Breathing techniques to reduce stress and sleep better
The classic ‘take a deep breath and count to 10’ that we’ve all used in times of stress, doubt, nervousness or anxiety is a good example of how breathing and our wellbeing are intricately linked. “Conscious, balanced breathing, where the out-breath lasts a little longer than the in-breath, lowers both brainwaves and heart rate”, adds Rachel.
But it comes with a warning: “We should never breathe through the mouth because it dries out and the saliva stops protecting the teeth. When we breathe through our nose, the air passes through a series of membranes that moisten, filter and warm it. But this doesn’t happen when we breathe through the mouth, which can irritate the lungs. And, little by little, it changes the position of the jaw, which lowers and moves forward, creating an expression of sadness that add a few years. Not only that, by breathing correctly, we are also working the throat muscles, which prevents the skin on the neck from sagging prematurely”.
Breathing and sleep
The best solution for breathing properly when we are asleep is to breathe properly when we are awake. “If a person breathes badly during the day, their diaphragm will be very high and, when they lie on their back in bed, they will throw their head back, arching their trunk. Breathing is very forced in this position and you are likely to start snoring, interrupting the restorative sleep we all need”.
To help you sleep soundly from now on, Rachel gives us two breathing techniques that promote relaxation and help you fall asleep. “The first is to breathe several times through the left nostril only. And the second is the 4-4-2 technique: count to four as you breathe in, count to four as you breathe out, and then pause with your lungs empty for a count of two”. Sleep well!