Raritan Bay Medical Center: De-Stress By Healthy Breathing

Source: GMN News
Breathing may be something we do 20,000 times a day, but that doesn’t mean we are doing it right.
According to Dr. Belisa Vranich, author of BREATHE — 14 Days to Oxygenating, Recharging, and Refueling Your Body and Brain, we have to “re-learn how to breathe moving the breathing back down to the lower part of your body where it belongs.” She says your diaphragm should be your main breathing muscle. Most of us use the smallest part of our lungs in the upper chest, which results in shallow breathing. Watch a baby breathe and you’ll see how it should be done.The baby’s belly moves up and down, gently and rhythmically. There is little movement in the chest and shoulders. Babies breathe through their abdomens and the largest part of their lungs.
So why do adults breathe badly? Poor posture from long hours at the computer pushes the lungs and other organs into a cramped position. Prolonged worry and anxiety, recent and old back and neck injuries can all result in constricted breathing patterns. A new condition called“email apnea” occurs while checking emails, tweets and text messages hundreds of times a day. Experts say technology users hold their breaths in anticipation of what they are about to read.
Shallow breathing and breath holding sabotage healthy breathing by placing stress on the lungs and activating the sympathetic nervous system, which releases stress hormones like cortisol into the body. Upper chest breathing also causes tension in neck and shoulder muscles.
So what can we do to breathe better? Exercise. Not aerobic exercises.They exercise the heart muscle, but do nothing for lung power. Breathing exercises give the lungs a workout. Dr. Vranich says, “Breathing exercises can energize you better than a Red Bull, put you to sleep better than an Ambien. They are the No. 1 antidote for stress: lowering your blood pressure and cortisol, and neutralizing your acidity in minutes.”
Start with this belly breathing exercise at least 10 minutes a day:
1. Lie down. Place both hands on your belly, middle fingers lightly touching
2. Breathe in, push your belly up against your hands
3. Breathe out and pull your belly inward
4.Watch your middle fingers. They should move apart as you inhale and touch again as you exhale.

SharonYeskel is a member of the Integrative Medicine Program at Raritan Bay Medical Center. The program’s qualified and credentialed practitioners provide integrative therapies to enhance patients’ health and well-being, both at the hospital and on an outpatient basis, with complementary medicine supporting the mind-body-spirit connection. Scheduled classes and private sessions are provided for a fee. For more information or an appointment, visit www.rbmc.org/integrativemedicine or a call 732-324-5257.

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