Thursday, February 19, 2009

Breath In, Breath Out. . .

I get a lot of emails. Some of it is spam like the "Do you want a hot wife? Get a Russian Wife!" Yeah, that one has been coming in nearly every day and it makes me laugh every time. Some of them are legitimate things I signed up for at one time and don't read/need anymore like Flylady (who sends hundreds of emails) or my old Pampered Chef lady. One that I don't recall ever signing up for comes about once a week nevertheless and it's some sort of beauty tips email. Usually I delete, but today I read with interest. The title read:

Simple Deep Breathing Exercise: Techniques That Can Reduce the Effects of Stress on the Body

I had to stop watching the news everyday because it stressed me out so badly.

So then I turned to reading which hasn't turned out well either because I'm currently reading The 5,000 Year Leap. It's an AMAZING book, don't get me wrong. It's written by a man who was frustrated that most people don't have a grasp on what the Constitution actually says let alone what the Founding Fathers believed in and how those beliefs helped them form this great nation.

For 5,000 years, life had remained pretty much the same on the earth until these Founding Fathers created an environment of "free-market economics that allowed science to thrive in an explosion of inventions and technical discoveries which, in merely 200 years, gave the world the gigantic new power resources of harnessed electricity, the internal combustion engine, jet propulsion, exotic space vehicles, and all the wonders of nuclear energy."

Basically, in 200 years, the human race had made a 5,000-year leap.

Why and how?

Through the amazing structure of our American government that the Founding Fathers created from numerous philosophies and principles. This book goes through those ideals and the philosophies of the Founding Fathers. I love it. It's easy reading and yet I feel I understand our country so much better.

And that's where the problem with reading begins for me. I turn off the news to not get frustrated and then I go read this amazing book that basically shows me that everything government has turned into contradicts everything that the Founding Fathers held sacred. I bet they are all rolling over in their graves right now - in fact, I know they are from some of their specific quotes I've read.

A few months ago I read a ton of talks from President Benson that amazed me and cemented my beliefs in government's role and the Constitution and now this book is just the icing on the cake from the Founding Fathers themselves. It feels good to be in good company.

hello - that was a tangent!!!!

Wasn't I talking about my emails and the deep breathing/stress email?

Well, I thought it had some good points and I need to relax and take deep breaths more (especially on my non-kenpo days -- kenpo is great for getting out frustration).

So here's what she said - if you feel stress, then I think you'll like it. If you don't feel stress then you must live in fairytale land and I would like to join you, let me know the directions!

"I know you hear all sorts of things about the negative effects of stress on your body and overall health. Even Oprah Winfrey had a guest on her show about how deep breathing could help you look and feel younger since it can reduces stress levels.

They've been researching stress reduction for decades, and the evidence comes back again and again that the most effective, easiest way to counteract stress is through deep breathing exercises. As we grow tense, the tendency is to take shallower breaths.

Understanding Common Breathing Problems:

Shallow breathing means less oxygen getting to the brain and muscles, which increases your physical tension as your body tries to adjust to the new demands you place on it. Ordinarily, we don't notice that we aren't using our lungs fully until something causes us to take a deep breath.

Hyperventilation is the most recognizable extreme of shallow breathing. Brought on by anxiety, breathing becomes so shallow that the sufferer experiences the feeling of not being able to catch her breath: she tries to compensate by breathing faster, and winds up gasping uncontrollably. Hyperventilation has traditionally been treated by having the person breathe into a paper bag: I don't know the chemical reason this would work, but I would surmise that having the distraction of breathing into a bag may be enough to calm the person and turn the mind away from the anxiety that brought on the attack in the first place.

Benefits of Practicing Daily Deep Breathing:

Taking a few minutes once or twice a day to practice deep breathing techniques can lower your blood pressure, aid your digestion, increase alertness and decrease fatigue, reduce tension headaches and migraines, and generally increase your quality of life (these are just a few of the benefits). People tend not to try deep breathing for a couple of reasons. They're afraid it sounds too simple to work. They feel like they can't make time for it in their already over-committed

It is simply a way of resetting the body's stress levels. You don't have to take a particular pose or
chant anything, if you don't want to. For a busy, worried mind, it may help to count each breath in and out ("one" on the inhale, "one" on the exhale, then "two" and so on). Counting your breaths is a simple exercise technique that helps keep the mind from wandering off to more distracting and more upsetting ideas. Ideally, the time you spend in deep breathing is not spent ruminating, planning, agonizing, or scheduling. You should just be breathing.

Deep Breathing Exercise Technique to Try:

To practice deep breathing, you will need ten minutes of uninterrupted time and a kitchen timer.

1. The first step is to give yourself permission to practice deep breathing, forgetting any ideas of multi-tasking. Promise yourself 5-10 minutes, twice a day, every day.

2. Turn off the cell phone, shut the office door (or go sit in your car) and make sure you can give your full attention to doing nothing.

3. Get yourself in a comfortable position. You may be sitting or lying down: it doesn't matter.

4. Loosen tight clothes, and take off your shoes if they aren't comfortable.

5. Set your timer for 10 minutes (or 5 if you're just starting and fear that 10 minutes of sitting quietly may drive you mad. It won't, though, and you can work your way up to it gradually.)

6. Relax your body. Those muscles you usually suck in, let go of. Let your face droop, too (many of us hold lots of tension in our jaws and foreheads. Especially if you're prone to headaches, relaxing your face will be most helpful.

7. Close your eyes, and focus on your breathing. Usually, the chest rises when you breathe. In deep breathing, your stomach will rise. Feel your stomach rising and falling. If your mind
is racing, count your breaths. Otherwise, just concentrate on your breathing. Usually, your mind will wander, so when it does, gently remind it that you are just breathing now and will think of other things later. Don't get mad at yourself, and don't give up after only a few tries.

And that's all there is to it. When your time is up, the timer will ring. If you've managed to fall asleep, it may be because you've been so tightly keyed up that releasing your anxiety for
a few minutes gave you some much-needed rest. Don't feel bad about that!"

I know I won't do it 10 minutes twice a day (my over-active brain would never settle down that long), but I can start out with just a few minutes and maybe then I can handle the news again.


Jeremy and Sara Smith said...

I love your tangents. I love that you love to read books like the 5000 year leap instead of just the hot novels of the year. And I love deep breathing techniques. While I was reading your post, I did some deep breathing. That counts, right?


Amy said...

So funny. I totally found myself automatically breathing deeply as I read this!

Dr. Robert B. Bates, DC said...

Once you are familiar with the basic methods of deep breathing you can also practice it while you do chores or basic activities. I practice deep breathing while on the computer (like right now), doing dishes (my wife cooks and I clean), or walking the dog. Another important thing to remember is, even if you breath deeply, keep your chest, shoulders and neck relaxed. You don't want to create more tension.

Megan said...

Who is Dr. Bates???? Weird. Anyway, I practiced your breathing techniques in church today, quite beneficial.

sherry said...

Breathing into a paper bag makes your body breathe back in the carbon dioxide it expels. Yes, your body does need a certain amount of carbon dioxide, and when you hyperventilate, you are basically ODing on oxygen. I hyperventilated once when I was just barely pregnant with Abigail. They took an arterial blood sample and my CO2 level was half of what it should be. At least I am pretty sure that is what they told me. I was a little anxious at the time. O.K, now who is going off on a tangent?;)