By Judy Ariagno, RMT
Go! Go! Go! This seems to be the nature of the world we live
in these days. Many people are hit with stressful situations from all aspects of their lives. The thought of trying to get caught up, never mind
keep up with the constant demands of work, family, and social life can be overwhelming. Where does this leave us? STRESSED OUT!
Stress appears in many forms and can be very different for different people. It might be body tension and pain, headaches, stomachache and digestive problems, anxiety, insomnia…the list goes on. The question is what can be done today about any one of these conditions? The Answer: BREATHE.
Have you ever paid attention to your breath? How fast is it? How long is your inhale/exhale? Do you feel your breath mostly in your stomach or collarbones?
I encourage you to take a few minutes out of your day today and everyday for the next week to do the exercise below and focus on your breath. This is often good to do before bedtime. Please consult your healthcare provider if you have had difficulties with diaphragmatic breathing in the past or you are a diabetic. Should you feel lightheaded please stop and try again another day.
Find a comfortable place to lie down, or sit back. Place one hand on your stomach and one hand on your chest. Close your eyes and listen to your breath. What are you feeling? For many people the hand on their stomach may not be moving at all while the hand on their chest is moving considerably. Continue with the exercise, inhaling to a count of 3 or 4, while trying to move the hand on your stomach. As you exhale count again and feel the hand on your stomach flatten. The hand on your chest will move during this process especially as your breath deepens and expands up into the lungs. However, we want to make sure the diaphragm is doing its job and not allowing the muscles in the chest and neck to do all the work.
When we speak of diaphragmatic breath it means to engage the diaphragm muscle. When used properly the diaphragm can help the body deliver oxygen and remove CO2 more efficiently. It assists in moving blood and lymphatic fluid and can also help break patterns of pain. Have you noticed your Massage Therapist ask you to take a breath when something is painful? This is a very helpful way of encouraging the body to relax.
Now that you are more aware of your breath use it as an effective tool in helping to maintain the best possible you.
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