Just Breathe: Go from Stressed to Serene
Stress can cause a lot of damage in a short amount of time. Lack of sleep, tense muscles and heart palpitations are just a few side effects. Thankfully, there are several ways to recover from these brief yet strenuous episodes.
Have you tried deep breathing? It’s a classic method that can take you from startled to still in 10 minutes. You can do it anywhere, at any time, and get the same calming results. This convenient relaxation technique will reduce stress and refocus your mind.
“The research is very clear,” said Dr. Duane DiFranco, senior medical director, Health Care Value at Blue Care Network. “Ten minutes a day, a couple or three times a day, [your] heart rate comes down, blood pressure comes down, performance at work increases, relaxation increases, well-being increases. So, this is the real deal.”
On the latest episode of the A Healthier Michigan Podcast, hosted by Chuck Gaidica, DiFranco discusses the importance of breathing and how it impacts the body. He also guides listeners through a deep breathing exercise, so you can experience it first-hand.
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Deep breathing isn’t about inhaling and exhaling. It’s about the quality of breath. “Breathing in as deeply and fully as you can without creating strain,” explained DiFranco. “Holding that breath at the top of your lungs for a few seconds, and then emptying your lungs completely.”
This technique retrains your brain, forcing it to acknowledge what real relaxation feels like. Deep breathing is crucial to managing chronic stress. One of the biggest benefits is its ability to lower blood pressure. Practicing every day, for a few weeks, can spark significant change.
In these 10 minutes, you will become more cognizant of your body. “You may experience a heightened awareness of your surroundings, of smells, of sensations, of sounds,” DiFranco said. “You may be more conscious of the chair beneath you, supporting you, of the clothes on your body. You may hear everyday sounds with greater clarity, sounds that you weren’t even conscious of before you closed your eyes.”
Deep breathing helps you tap into your senses. The more relaxed you are, the more effective it becomes.
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Photo credit: SrdjanPav