We have become a society of shallow breathers and it is compromising our health!
Have you ever heard of a phenomena called “email apnea” (or “screen apnea”)? The term was coined by Linda Stone, a writer, researcher, and former executive at Apple and Microsoft. She was able to identify that at least 80% of people hold their breath while they are checking email and texting. I checked, I do it too!
The flip side of this coin is the cultural pressure to look good and be thin, to the point that we hold in our stomachs most of the time. This has a detrimental affect because we are breathing shallowly. Our lungs are designed to need air to be pulled in deeply so the bottom part of the lungs expands fully.
Most people are breathing from their chest, using the muscles from their necks and shoulders.
Have you ever watched a newborn baby breathing? They pull air into their lungs through their diaphragm, extending their belly, then their chest. When they exhale, their belly contracts. Yeah, most of us don’t do that. Do you?
Research by Dr. Margaret Chesney and Dr. David Anderson at National Institute of Health (NIH) has shown that holding ones breath and breathing shallowly can have the following adverse affects on our bodies:
Poor immune system function
Increases stress on the body
Hampers our ability to mediate inflammation
Causes the nervous system to trigger “fight or flight”
Slower brain function (Our brain uses 20% of the oxygen we consume!)
Now, when we breathe properly, from our diaphragm, it has these beneficial affects:
Can lower blood pressure
Reduce heart rate
Increase energy levels
So, how do you breathe properly?
Breathe through your nose
Breathe with the diaphragm (While you are retraining yourself to breathe correctly you can place your hand on your diaphragm so that you feel the inhalation and exhalation by the diaphragm.
Breathe relaxed Note: Stress causes us to breathe more shallowly. It’s a vicious cycle.
It’s fascinating to me that our culture has evolved in such a way that it can actually affect something so automatic and natural as our breathing.
The big takeaway I guess would be to breathe mindfully. Be aware of your breathing. Whether or not your body is feeling stressed. If it is, you are probably not breathing properly. Consider these practices a major focal point of self care.
If you would like to learn more about lifestyle changes that can have huge impacts on your health get in touch with us @ www.peakwellnessgroup.com and set up a free consultation.