South Florida is a tropical paradise. The hustle and bustle of daily life, even in paradise, can add pressure to your life. During anxiety and tension our stress hormones begin pumping and your blood pressure rises quickly. When we're stressed, hormones like cortisol flood our systems, producing the "fight or flight response" in which our heart rate goes up, breathing becomes heavy, demanding more oxygen, and our blood vessels constrict. Deliberate, deep breathing has the power to reset that stress response stress virtually instantaneously.
Everyone has a “stress response” and we also have a "relaxation response." Taking a few deep breaths can help reduce tension and relieve stress, thanks to an extra boost of oxygen. A marker of stress is shallow breathing it stimulates the sympathetic nervous system. Deep breathing does just the opposite. It stimulates the parasympathetic reaction, in which we calm down. During the relaxation response your breathing slows, your blood pressure decreases. Breathing exercises can help with relaxation, because they make your body feel like it does when you are already relaxed.
Deep breathing is your bodies built-in stress reliever. The goal with deep breathing exercises is “to produce the body's natural relaxation response, characterized by slower breathing, lower blood pressure, and a feeling of increased well-being.” Next time life hits you with some stress…try a deep, breathing exercise.
- Start by taking a long, slow breath in through your nose.
- Imagine filling your lower lungs, then your upper lungs.
- Hold that breath to a count of three.
- Exhale slowly through pursed lips, while relaxing the muscles in your face, jaw, shoulders and abdomen.