Tag Archives: stress
Why is breathing so incredibly difficult?
Wait, what did Christy just write? Breathing isn’t difficult.
Actually, breathing for most people is very difficult indeed. I have spent 90 minutes with a CEO of a Fortune 100 company helping him learn to breathe. He held his breath constantly… and didn’t even realize it. Holding one’s breath contributes to higher levels of stress, causing the stress hormones (adrenaline and cortisol) to rise even higher and shunting your blood away from your vital organs to your muscles, as your body will then think you are in fight or flight mode.
Just this morning, a client of mine just would not breathe while doing her exercises.
Inhale, exhale, inhale, exhale, inhale, exhale….
I had to remind her every repetition which is not usually like her. She usually brings a near-Zen approach to her workouts even if they are hard. But with family, travel, and work stress, breathing gets pushed to the wayside.
Today, just breathe. Take 5 minutes to sit and close your eyes and just breathe. Take your train ride to work and just breathe. Turn your phone on silent… or even OFF. Wow. Imagine how that would feel?
Just breathe. For your health.
Today I was asked to give a presentation on stress & the body at my graduate school, The Chicago School of Professional Psychology, where I”m studying Industrial & Organizational Psychology (like an MBA, but more soft skills).
I talked about how the body now uses the fight or flight response for everyday stresses like fights with one’s spouse, car traffic, a bad workday… and also good things like getting engaged or having a baby. It is of the utmost importance to mitigate stress as adrenaline & cortisol, in excess levels, are extremely dangerous to the body. They harm our heart, lungs, and organs. They throw off our blood pressure. They make us store fat in our abdomen (which is lethal for our organs). They suppress our immune system, reduce our capabilities for healthy & normal digestion, and halt reproduction.
If that weren’t enough, what is most scary about excess stress hormones is that they suppress pain. While a long time ago when one was running from predators, this was important (i.e. a bear chasing you, you fall, you don’t feel the pain and keep running). Now, this is when scary things can happen. This is when “the silent killer” (heart disease) can attack you. This is when you don’t feel the pain in the cardiac muscle of your arteries getting clogged because you are so high on adrenaline, you can’t feel any pain.
Stopped being scared and make a plan instead. Create an exercise regime that encompasses cardio, breath-based slow exercise (Yoga, Pilates, weight training), and some light meditation. Find your happy place. Stick to your plan. Keep your stress in check and eliminate stressors that you can (a toxic friend, smoking cigarettes, etc…) and embrace the stressors you can’t change. Keep your stress in check and that will keep your health in check with yearly physicals.
Together, we can beat this beast, stress. Get to class this weekend at Pure!