Stress in today’s society is not getting any lower. We have previously talked about how chiropractic care can assist in the management of stress levels. (1-2) This time we want to expand on what we covered last time by also giving you a simple breathing exercise to assist in self-management of your stress levels.
A common way of measuring the body’s response to stress, as well as overall wellbeing, is heart rate variability (HRV). It is often assumed that heart rate should be rather constant, but is in fact, quite the opposite, a higher variability is associated with better health. Our HRV also will be impacted by mood and mental wellbeing, especially depression and anxiety have a large negative impact. (3-4)
So, “How on earth does breathing help?” I hear you ask. Well, a study published this year has started to give us this answer. They found that by regulating your breathing with rhythmic breathing or 6 breaths per minute had positive impacts on HRV. By holding to 6 breaths per minute it is hypothesised that you can impact your autonomic nervous system, and gas exchange efficiency (how well you absorb oxygen from the air). (3-4)
Another study from 2019 reported that using breathing techniques such as these helped in improving decision making as well as reducing stress levels. (5-6)
A simple breathing exercise to realign the body and brain is this:
1. Slowly inhale through your nose to a count of 4.
2. Hold your breath for the count of 4.
3. Exhale slowly through your mouth to a count of 4 or more.
Repeat this until you feel your heart rate slow down and your body begin to calm. It really can be that simple!
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