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Relaxation

Inspired Thoughts : breathing properly to ward off stress

Nowadays, we seem to take stress as a given in our everyday lives. We don’t care for it, but it is there nonetheless and we need to cope with it as best we can. To this end, we are bombarded with tricks and techniques for fighting stress, from numerous sources. So much so that it becomes bewildering, and difficult to know which are reliable, because these tips often go off in vastly different directions one from the other.

But a closer look at all these sources reveals that most of them at least agree on the important role breathing plays in stress reduction. Along these lines, then, here are a few tips for using your lungs to minimize your stress.

Conscious breathing

Sometimes simply focusing on the act of breathing itself is sufficient to help you relax. You simply need to remain still for a moment, whether seated or standing, and shut your eyes. Next, focus on the mechanics of your breathing, as your body swells up and then empties itself of air; as your chest expands then contracts; as the air enters your nostrils and throat; and so on. As soon as you find yourself distracted by a thought, dispel it immediately and turn your attention back to your breathing. Some 15 or 20 breaths later, you will probably already feel more relaxed.

Diaphragmatic vs. thoracic breathing

As practitioners of yoga and meditation are well aware, there are two types of breathing: thoracic (or shallow) breathing, which swells up the thorax and causes the shoulders to lift, and diaphragmatic (or abdominal) breathing, which fills up the lower abdomen and lowers the diaphragm. The first method actually limits our respiratory capacity because our lungs get used to filling up to only half their capacity; the second approach allows the lungs to completely fill up with air, which reduces muscular pain and promotes better oxygenation, in turn reducing stress.

Into the sauna

And finally, saunas. In addition to their positive effects on the immune system, saunas and steam baths can also be excellent ways of reducing stress, because they promote increased oxygenation of the blood and deeper breathing, particularly when combined with conscious breathing. So if one of your friends or loved ones seems tense or edgy, you know what to do: offer them a Bota Bota gift card and deliver them from their stress!
Sources: Doctissimo, Top Santé, Vers une vie sereine, Santé web.