Simple Breathing for Stress Reduction

Beautiful sunset over the bay in Juneau Alaska

 

It’s hard to believe that it’s already September. I hope this finds you and your friends and family doing well despite all of the challenges 2020 has brought us.  

Starting today, you can look forward to a weekly email and blog post. Our goal is to  answer some of your most frequently asked questions relating to Integrative Medicine and provide quick takeaways.. Integrative medicine is the umbrella under which all other healing modalities exist.  Functional and regenerative medicine are both under the integrative medicine umbrella, for example. 

We would love your input on what topics you would like to learn more about and encourage you to fill out the questionnaire at the bottom of this page. 

Integrative Pearl: 4 – 7 – 8 Breath

Want to reduce stress and inflammation, improve digestion and nutrient absorption, increase longevity, and decrease exercise recovery time? 

Breathing is the first thing we do when we are born and the last thing we do before we die.  Our breath is with us wherever we go. Our breath is controlled by our conscious minds *and* our autonomic nervous system, which steps in to make sure we don’t stop breathing.  This dual system provides us a distinct  opportunity to use breathing techniques to calm our nervous system. 

Stress plays a big role in increasing inflammation and just about every disease we know about.  The more we can keep our bodies in the parasympathetic, or “rest and digest”, state and out of the sympathetic state, or “flight, fight and freeze”, the healthier we’ll be.  

The 4-7-8 Breath efficiently shifts our bodies into a parasympathetic relaxed state in a couple of minutes.  

Like anything, the more you practice it, the more effective you’ll be.  I recommend doing 4-8 counts every morning when you wake up and every night when you go to sleep.  After about a month of practice, you can start implementing it during times of stress.  I have gotten teams together in the ER to do a few rounds before and after resuscitations and it’s amazing how much better we all feel.  

Here’s the quick summary of how to do it:  

  • Exhale completely through your mouth, making a whoosh sound.
  • Close your mouth and inhale quietly through your nose to a mental count of 4.
  • Hold your breath for a count of 7.
  • Exhale completely through your mouth, making a whoosh sound to a count of 8.
  • This is one breath. 
  • Now inhale again and repeat the cycle three more times for a total of four breaths.

There are many different breathing techniques out there and if you are interested in learning more, I highly recommend the book Breath by James Nestor.

 

What is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?

Allison

 

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