Breathing, what does that have to do with my health?
How you breathe is actually very important for your overall health and well being. Breathing patterns can affect how our body functions and responds to changing situations and environments. Normally, breathing is slow and calm in non-stressful relaxing moments but, can become shallow when you are under stress. When shallow breathing occurs, it puts your nervous system on alert. This is part of our “fight or flight” response system. In this state, your body is working to protect itself and it is not working efficiently if kept in this state when the threat, stress, or emergency has passed. This is a form of chronic stress on the body. This stress can affect metabolism, pain, the immune response, impair tissue healing and many other body functions. Are you a shallow breather?
Problems with breathing can stem from a variety of scenarios. As a physical therapist, my focus is to analyze the body and determine if there is a structural reason for inefficient breathing patterns. By educating an individual to become aware of the body, there is the ability to make a change in the pattern in order to restore the relaxed grounded state. By understanding your breathing patterns and reactions to different stressors, you will regain the ability to control the body’s response which can reduce the side effects from chronic shallow breathing and restore normal patterns.
To explore your breathing habits, take a few minutes each day to check in with your body and observe your breathing pattern. Does your abdomen expand when you take a deep breath? Do you only feel your chest move? How long does it take you to breathe in vs. out? How many breaths do you take each minute? Does your neck, chest, ribs or shoulders feel tight and restricted? How does your breathing change in different situations?
A return to wellness can come from learning to direct your own life in a positive way. Working toward feeling good and a sense of belief in yourself can provide the ability to change if you have the initiative to pursue it. By making small changes to promote healthy habits, you can have a positive impact on your health and well-being.