Breathing in oxygen is an essential habit for human living. We need O2 for survival and basic organ functioning. Oxygen enters through our lungs but does not stay in our lungs. It is transferred to our blood stream where the heart then pumps the freshly oxygenated blood to the rest of our body. With this fresh oxygen, all of our organs function healthier, including our brain.
Breathing and Stress Management
The number of scientific benefits of proper breathing is countless. Many of these benefits play a part in lowering stress to the human body. Let’s first describe how it feels when we are stressed. Adrenaline raises our heart rate and we, without thinking about it, begin to take rapid and quick shallow breaths of air.
Fortunately, our bodies have this built-in stress-reliever, lungs. We can learn to manage our breathing, even during stressful occasions. When we can learn to slow breathing down by taking deep, long breaths of oxygen, we encourage our nervous system and body to relax, which in-turn brings about a range of health benefits. The very basic ones are lowering heart rate and bringing oxygen equally to all parts of our body, helping our brain to focus.
Deep or Belly Breathing
Even if you are not into yoga, belly breathing is for you. And it is simple. First get comfortable in a chair or bed, you can do this standing too. Though, in any case, keep your back straight. We are going to simply breath, but really slowly and only focusing on this exercise for a few minutes.
As you inhale slowly (through your nose) count to 5 or 6 in your head while taking in air. See if you can make it to 7 or beyond! As this is happening your entire belly should stick out a bit more than usual, because you are not just using your diaphragm, but your entire belly! Next as you exhale (through your mouth), you need to also go really slow. Also see if you can count to the same number as oxygen leaves your body. Do this at least three times and you will begin to see results immediately. In future posts, I may refer to this as deep or belly breathing. There are other exercises that build upon this to also reduce stress!
This might be a strange topic to some, or one that you have not placed a lot of time thinking about up until now. Although, one easy to learn stress management tip is to simply try better posture. With better posture you are able to use your energy and muscles more efficiently, avoid neck and back pain and improve your entire mental outlook. That is right having a better posture has been proven to improve mental health too!
It is very beneficial and therapeutic sometimes just to have someone to vent to, especially if this person is trained as a professional listener. We all have a human desire to be heard. We need to just talk to some one some times. Accountability goes even further than just listening, but also provides feedback. Having a mentor, coach, counselor or even a best friend in your life can be very useful in helping you stay on track of meeting your goals in life and having added support.
Accountability and Stress
Having a coach or counselor, in particular, is useful in helping mange stress. Coaches and counselors are trained to help people change the way they think. With a coach or a counselor in your life you can become an even more productive and positive person. These experts also have many tools and resources for stress management.
Just as sleep is essential, so is exercise. Countless numbers of studies tally up the numerous reasons for why exercise is so vital to good human health. Even just 10-15 minutes a day of walking can be beneficial. The benefits of this kind of exercise can include weight loss as well as a lowered risk for developing diabetes and heart disease.
How much exercise?
The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services recommends that all Americans over the age of 6 get at least 30 minutes of exercise a day, totaling at least 150 (but with more, the benefits skyrocket) weekly. Risk of premature death is nearly cut in half when comparing people who exercise vigorously for just one hour per day compared to those who only did it for 30 minutes per week.
The Benefits of Exercise
Lowers risk of stroke, heart disease, lowers blood pressure, lowers risk of diabetes, lowers risk of a number of cancers, prevents weight gain, increases weight loss, reduces depression, increase cognitive functioning, better muscular health and musculoskeletal health and increased energy!
Stress and Exercise
When the human body is exercising regularly, stress reduction also occurs. Exercise should be the first prescription for stress, anxiety and depression. When the body exercises, endorphin, a neurotransmitter (and natural pain and stress reducer), flood the brain with pleasure and healing. This creates a happy, healthy, well-balanced brain that really does help fight against anxiety, stress and even depression.
Sleep is so important to the human body! When we sleep serotonin, a vital neurotransmitter, re-fuels and recharges the brain. Serotonin is “gas” for the brain. It helps humans to stay happy and healthy, more alert and focused, increased productivity and memory as well as better reaction time and judgment. All of these things!
The Lack of Sleep
With a lack of sleep, our brains do not function at full capacity. Something has to suffer. In fact people with less serotonin suffer from anxiety, moodiness, a lack of judgement, fatigue, cognitive impairment, trouble falling asleep and depressive tendencies.
How Much Sleep?
Experts say that human adults should get 7 to 8 hours of sleep daily. The human body is designed to shut-down and recover daily. In the deep REM sleep is when the serotonin cleans up the brain. Some experts recommend even more than 8 hours per night. Not everyone sleeps the same way, so people are better off to sleep 4-5 hours during the night and then take a 2-3 hour nap mid-day.
Sleep and Stress
Sleep is one of the easiest and best ways to reduce stress in life. By simply getting a regular and healthy amount of sleep on a regular basis, one can prevent feeling stressed as well as feel better after a more stressful day or event.