During stressful situations we rarely stop to think about what is happening within our bodies. Indeed, the pressures of the moment keep our minds occupied on almost everything but our physiological functions. Consequently those functions often become irregular, leaving us in an unhealthy state of being. When we are in this state we have fewer chances to succeed in whatever we try to accomplish.
Among the many physiological functions adversely affected by stress is our breathing. Even when stress is minimal few people retain a habit of natural, full breathing which is required for maintaining a good mental and physical state. Proper breathing is essential for sustaining life and cleansing inner body systems. By learning proper breathing techniques stressful situations may be handled better and overall mental and physical health will be improved.
BREATHING: THE IMPORTANCE OF OXYGEN
Oxygen plays a vital role in the circulatory and respiratory systems. As we breathe, oxygen that is inhaled purifies our blood by removing poisonous waste products circulating throughout our blood systems. Irregular breathing will hamper this purification process and cause waste products to remain in circulation. Digestion will then become irregular, leaving tissues and organs undernourished. Improper oxygen consumption will thus ultimately lead to fatigue and heightened anxiety states. The irregular breathing elicited during stressful situations not only make them hard to cope with but also contribute to a general deterioration of health. By the careful control of our breathing pattern, we may not only rejuvenate our systems but counter the unhealthy effects of stress.
Breathing methods are useful to settle the body and mind and induce a heightened sense of awareness. Breathing exercises have been practiced for thousands of years in the East. The West began studying the effectiveness and importance of them several years ago. By this time, sufficient research has taken place in the West to verify the usefulness of these techniques.
The following breathing methods can be helpful for reducing anger, anxiety, depression, fatigue, irritability, muscular tension and stress.
While breathing is a function most people take for granted, rarely is it practiced in a proper fashion. Before beginning any technique it is essential that you learn how to breath properly and fully:
DEEP, RELAXED BREATHING.
Although this exercise can be practiced in a variety of poses, the following is recommended for beginners:
THE RELAXING SIGH.
Sighing and yawning during the day are signs that you are not getting enough oxygen. A sigh releases a bit of tension and can be practiced at will as a means of relaxing.
THE CLENCHED FIST.
This exercise will stimulate your breathing, circulation and nervous system.
This exercise combines the relaxing benefits of deep, relaxed breathing with the curative value of positive auto-suggestions.
THE ROLLING BREATH.
The following exercise requires a partner and is effective in relaxing and energizing you.
Any of the above techniques can and should be practiced everyday. Being a natural preventive measure for stress, there are very few side effects. It will take some time before you observe any profound changes within your body and mind taking place, but practice diligently and patiently. You will eventually realize that you have more energy and are much more relaxed.
The Help Screens (HS) & the Counseling Center Help Screens (CCHS) were created by Carlos P. Zalaquett, Ph.D.