BradCliff Breathing Christmas Message
This year in particular, and in those countries who are still in various stages of lockdown, many face a Christmas alone or isolated from family, the worry of job losses plus many may be amongst the over-burdened health care workers. This can all take a terrible toll on top of the normal pre-Christmas stress of work hassles, fractious families and grizzly children.
One client recently said he felt like a Pacific salmon – fighting his way upstream and being chronically stressed to the max. Salmon are programmed to do this. After struggling upstream, fuelled by adrenaline and cortisol and laying their eggs, they die of exhaustion or infection, their bodies worn out by their efforts. Being stressed to the max is a salmon’s lot.
Fortunately, we humans have not been programmed this way. But increasingly the pressure of modern life – both urban and rural – have for some, become intolerable.
Adrenaline and cortisol levels are sent sky high by tyrant bosses, traffic jams, solo parenthood, two career marriages, exams, unemployment, frightening TV news, and of course ... the compulsory cheeriness of Christmas.
It may be one, or a combination of stresses that lead to ‘overload’. Respiration rates speed up, upper chest breathing takes over. Resting adrenaline and cortisol levels start to resemble those of the doomed salmon.
How can we avoid the pre-Christmas stress mess? Try these tips from the team members at BradCliff ...
Poor old Rudolph had a red nose which might be an issue for our Northern Hemisphere friends right now while here in the South, it’s the hot dry air. Either way, protect your lungs from both extremes by keeping this amazing organ in great shape. Address the allergies, rinse it regularly, and hum! Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer is a perfect one to start. The vibrations from humming will get the nitric oxide production in full swing, helping protect you from viruses, clear the sinuses & if you can get a few lines in before your next breath it’ll give us a lovely long mind soothing de-stressing exhalation! Happy Healthy Christmas everyone!
Posture counts – while you’re humming your favourite Christmas song, check in with how your head and shoulders are aligned. The average head weighs 5kg – bringing your ears in line with your shoulders and pointing your breastbone forward allows your upper trapezius muscle (across the top of your shoulders) to relax, and helps your diaphragm and pelvic floor work together. And then smile!
Santa was on the right track with his Ho ho hos. Laughter is the best toxin-free medicine. Make sure you have a good belly laugh at least once a day, if not once an hour. It works the diaphragm a treat, and releases serotonin (a mood enhancer as well as a sleep nectar) into your system. A good bout of laughter is one of the best stress-busters. Smiling is OK too ...
Remember to keep time-tabling in your 'work-free, stress-free' zones during your week, when work and worrying are simply not allowed. When you take this time out (whether its 10 minutes or all Sunday afternoon), you’ll find the world keeps spinning just the same without your extra worrying - and it might even seem a nicer place.
Get in the water this summer in the Southern Hemisphere. Immersing your face in water activates your dive response and the vagus nerve, relaxing your heart rate and improving your tolerance to CO2. Go surfing for no other reason than it is fun! Cha hooo.
Breathe well, move well. Christmas is a busy time of year - and for those of us in the Northern Hemisphere, the colder, darker days means it is sometimes hard to be active. Find the time to get outside for a brisk walk in the sunshine, and see if you can pace your breathing to your steps, to help keep your breathing in check. Breathe in time to your steps and try to breathe out for one step longer; for example, breathe in for 2 steps and out for 3 steps. As an added bonus, see if you can nose breathe while you are walking - a bit of a challenge for the colder days! Hint: use a loose scarf, or keep your hood up to create a micro-climate around your face to add heat and humidity to the colder air. The transition to moving from a sedentary state can be a hard one - but if you set an initial goal of 10 minutes a day, you will be amazed at how much better you will feel getting some fresh air!
In the Southern Hemisphere, watch out for mozzies heading into summer. If you're extra-stressed and over breathing, you're much more likely to be bitten! Research tells us that carbon dioxide and lactic acid are tantalising to the mosquito. Carbon dioxide released from our breath and skin acts as an airborne attractant from a distance as great as 36 metres. If mozzies love you, stop and think about how you are breathing. All you bad breathers who are huffing too much carbon dioxide are prime targets. Not to mention increasing your carbon foot print.
Merry Christmas everyone. Breathe well & stay safe.
The BradCliff Team.