Prep Week #2 Stress Less | Just Breathe

 Slide #1:

Breathing is something you do more than 20,000 times per day…But how are breathing? 

Your breath—specifically oxygen—is the most powerful tool that you possess to spark gut healing, manage stress, and calm a hyperactive HPA axis. 

We can go 3 weeks without food and sleep, 3 days without water, but only a few minutes without breath, and the oxygen that air contains. 

Each time you inhale air, you uptake oxygen that your body needs to function. 

The more that your body is in “healing” mode, the more oxygen you need. 

And the more efficiently that you can deliver oxygen to your muscles (through quality breathing) the better and more efficiently your body can repair—ultimately leading to better health and more energy . 

Slide #2:

A lack of oxygen, on the other hand, due to improper breathing, ongoing inflammation and stress, increases inflammatory cytokines in your body. 

Hello ongoing issues with your gut, hormones, metabolism, skin health, energy—you name it—no matter how clean you eat or how much you work out!

When we breathe better and uptake more oxygen, the oxygen enters our body tissues where it attacks and kills any unwanted bacterial and yeast overgrowth, fungus, mold, and toxins, while keeping the good guys alive. 

Don’t fully believe it? 

Consider this conversation I had recently with a patient:

Slide #3:

Breathing=Healing Powers

Jessica (client): “I don’t know why I’m not healing! Bloating, SIBO and candida keep coming back, no matter how clean I eat or the supplements I take.”

Me: “Jess, I hear you. I am so sorry this is your experience. I really do think we need to talk about stress…Stress plays such a huge role in our healing.”

Jessica: “I hear you. But I’m not stressed—at least no more than the average person. Okay, I’m stressed over this, if anything!” 

Me: “Stress is really tricky. We can think we aren’t stressed, but still be sending signals to our body that we are. It can’t tell the difference between running from a bear versus ‘Should I eat that sweet potato or not?’”

 I’d like you to try this experiment. I’m going to time you for one minute. Count your number of breaths for me.”

Sixty seconds later….

Me: “How many breaths did you take?”

Jessica: “48.”

Me: “Whoooooaaaa…that’s way too high! It’s like you’re running from a bear inside you…stressing your body out!”

Slide #4:

Your Turn

So how are you breathing? 

You too can test your breath rate to help determine the level of stress you’re under.

Time yourself for 1 minute and see how many breaths you take. 

The ideal breath rate, at rest, is 5 to 7 breaths per minute. 

This ideal breath rate signals the parasympathetic state, in which you “rest and digest,” as opposed to the sympathetic—or fight-or-flight—mode. 

Unfortunately, the average breath rate in adults today is between 12 to 20 breaths—signaling to our body “May day! May day! I’m running from a bear!” at all times…

Slide #5:

In fact, did you know that your autonomic nervous system—your stress response system— doesn’t know the difference in running from a bear versus taking rapid, shallow breaths at your desk? 

Your nervous system and cortisol—stress hormone—interprets all forms of stress the same!—whether you are breathing 48 breaths at rest on a beach in Tahiti…or running from a bear and breathing 48 breaths!

Slide #6:

How to Breathe Properly

Common signs of improper breathing include: 

  • Inhaling with your chest
  • Mouth breathing and rapid short breaths 
  • Tight shoulders and upper neck muscles, along with slouching
  • Frequent yawning
  • High resting breath rate (over 12 breaths per minute)
  • Not-expanding your rib cage when you breathe

On the other hand, proper breathing looks like diaphragmatic belly breathing—not chest breathing or breathing that involves shoulder movement.

 If you fully expand your rib cage by taking a deep breath, you should see your belly rise. Inhale through the nose and exhale through the nose or mouth.

 Slide #7:

Additionally, don’t neglect the power of “breathing” in your daily life – taking “breaks!” Recess breaks. 

The human brain can only work at most in 3-4 hour deep work stints…moreover,  we spend almost 50% of our days with our minds wandering away from a task at hand…

And outside of structured intentional focus, the human brain only has about 8 seconds of focus…

Translation: our minds are constantly running marathons!

“Just breathe” with intentional recess breaks built into your day 

  • Morning routine
  • Lunch break – yoga, get away from desk and workout
  • Evening – walk w/ a friend, creative hobby, yoga, mix it up
  • Do the most difficult thing first and everything else is gravy. 

Recess :) 

 Slide #8:

Conclusion

 Ideally, inhale for five to 10 seconds in through your nose and exhale for the same length of time—out through your nose or mouth. 

Again, aim for no more than 5 to 7 breaths per minute during rest and normal daily activities in order to achieve the ideal, body healing state. 

This state signals “calm” to your body. 

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