Sunday, July 30, 2006

Breathing

I’m going to start off with something that is fundamental to reducing stress, and promoting relaxation and well-being: Breathing. We all do it, but do you realize how vitally important it is to do it properly and cleanly? Read on…..

The two easiest and most immediate things you can do to relieve stress in your life is to breathe properly and to make sure you are doing everything you can to promote good circulation. The health and wellness of every cell in your body depends upon the oxygen carried through the blood stream. Improper breathing or being sedentary for long periods of time denies your body its oxygen requirement, and you set yourself up for a stress reaction. When your circulation suffers, you cannot properly expel the carbon dioxide and other toxins from your system, either. This also creates feelings of stress and un-wellness.

Mild stress reactions to improper breathing can bring an overall feeling of lethargy. Stronger physical symptoms may range from headaches to tingling (“pins and needles”) or cramps in feet and toes. These two reactions are often most pronounced when you have sat leaning over a desk for an extended period of time.

When you sit leaning forward, you are compressing your chest area, including your heart! This position can limit your heart’s ability to pump blood efficiently, and can diminish your capacity to circulate oxygen. Sitting forward also encourages shallow breathing. The average adult uses only ten percent of his or her lung capacity as it is; you can’t afford to decrease your intake of oxygen. Furthermore, slouching forces stressful tension into your shoulders and the back of your neck, compressing the veins and capillaries, and restricting the flow of blood to your head and your brain. This not only causes headaches, but adversely impacts your ability to concentrate and retain information.

Your heart is a hard-working organ, but it can’t push blood all the way to the tip of your toes by itself. Your muscle tone helps to move the oxygenated blood through your body to your extremities. Sitting still for long periods of time causes your muscles themselves to suffer from lack of oxygen; they begin to contract, making you feel stiff or sore all over. Poor muscle tone contributes to poor circulation, and that contributes even more to muscular stress and discomfort. Feet and toes get cranky when they do not receive the oxygen they need, and they send the very direct message through the “pins and needles” or cramps you feel: “Get up and get moving!” For every hour you sit, you should make five minutes for movement.

The mechanics of proper breathing is only one side of this issue. The other side is, of course, what you breathe.

Whether you spend your time in a home or an office, indoor air is full of things that are downright bad for you: formaldehyde from cupboards and other plywood products; fire retardants and other chemicals in carpets, upholstery, and draperies; glue and finishing products from furniture; residue from cleaning products.

Opening the window to let in fresh, outdoor air may not be much better, and may even be worse if you are exposing yourself to vehicle exhaust fumes or landscaping chemicals like fertilizers and pesticides.

The only way to get clean air without going out into the forest is to make it. Very simply, buy an air cleaner. It will be the best investment you ever made toward your good health and wellness.

Small air cleaners are available that will easily fit on the corner of your desk or table, and larger cleaners that will filter the air in an entire room. If you purchase an air cleaner that requires filters, do remember to change the filter frequently or you will be breathing in the higher density of toxins collected in the filter.

Not as effective but esthetically more pleasing perhaps is to place plants or a small, potted tree in your work place or home. Plants absorb carbon dioxide and return fresh oxygen. A flowering plant brings the added advantage of nicely scented flowers that encourage deep breathing as you try to capture their perfume. It’s a fact that the color green promotes relaxation and well-being.

Burning a candle will help clean the air, also, but please burn only natural beeswax candles. The scented paraffin candles look and smell nice, but they are manufactured from petroleum by-products and only add to indoor pollution according to The American Lung Association. While burning, a natural beeswax candle will produce negative ions which help clear the air of pollen, smoke, dust and dust mites, and bad odors. They burn slower and last longer, too. (Never leave a burning candle unattended.)

Whatever method you choose, it is certainly in your best interest to provide yourself with the healthiest, cleanest air you can.

1 comment:

Veggies,Yarns & Tails said...

Thanks for a great post. Breathing (properly) is so important and often overlooked as just something we do naturally. I have practised yoga for over 20 years and that really helps to focus one on the importance of proper breathing techniques. The results are very worthwhile.

BFN, G