Please Walk Clockwise - Part 2
This is part 2 in a series of three newsletters covering:
- Biomechanics of breathing
- Psychology of breathing
- Biochemistry related to COVID19
Part 1 - Biomechanics considered three key aspects:
- The importance of a good breathing rhythm, especially when running or walking to maintain social distancing.
- Droplet projection, especially if the exhale is bigger and more forced (e.g. with exercise).
- The significance of breathing through our nose vs mouth.
Part 2 The Psychology of Breathing
Psychologists have described various phases people go through when experiencing a lock down, which are similar to the phases of experiencing a crisis (as suggested by many psychologists) or grief (Kubler Ross).
- I need to do something
By now most of us have hopefully reached the acceptance phase, but we will continue to move between the phases, not only as individuals, but also as families, workplaces and nations.
To successfully negotiate these phases, first and foremost, you must look after yourself. If you remain physically and mentally well you can help your bubble and others you are in contact with, by staying grounded rather than becoming overwhelmed, anxious or stressed.
Breathing well is the first step.
Breathing has a strong influence on our physiology, which has a flow on effect to how we feel i.e. our moods, energy levels and emotions. When we breathe well the balance of oxygen and carbon dioxide in the body has a profound effect on many systems. There are two main systems we wish to highlight - the autonomic nervous system and the Vagus nerve.
The autonomic nervous system
This regulates all the organs and systems in the body. At BradCliff we talk about:
- green zone (parasympathetic nervous system dominant), we are calm so we can rest, digest and reproduce. The breathing is regular, and nose, low (ie tummy) and slow.
- red zone (sympathetic nervous system dominant), we are in a state of fight flight and flee. The breathing is irregular, erratic, faster and shallower.
Both are essential to daily living and the ideal is to move between the two phases with balance. Unfortunately, we know most of us living in the 21 century spend a lot of time in the red zone. We are often addicted to stress. This is unhealthy for many reasons, such as a compromised immune system. Signs and symptoms of too much red zone include poor sleep, exhaustion, brain fog, excessive anxiety and irritability.
By simply paying attention to the way we breathe without changing it can begin to calm our bodies and settle our thoughts.
Secondly the Vagus nerve.
This is an important nerve that innervates and controls many systems in the body. It influences the green zone, affects blood pressure, heart rate, gut health, sweating, digestion, and speaking. Breathing is the key to controlling this nerve. We know slow, rhythmic, diaphragmatic breathing i.e. breathing from your belly rather than shallowly from the top of the lungs, stimulates and tones the vagus nerve.
The BradCliff Green Dot™
Find some dots or stickers. We use green dots to represent the green zone. Place these in strategic positions in view i.e. on your lap top, phone, computer, fridge, car. When you see this dot - STOP DROP FLOP & FLOW. We suggest to check yourself at least hourly until a habit is formed.
Do a quick body check for tension, shoulders raise and release, pull shoulder blades together at the back and release, move legs and pelvis (order of tension release does not matter).
Breathe out through your mouth if necessary (nose is normal) but as we hold a lot of tension in the jaw and often breath hold stacking air in the upper chest. You may need to breathe out first through your mouth to release the tension and pressure. Perhaps try breathing out as if you are blowing out a candle.
Then Breathe in via the nose low and slow (belly by the belt).
Then Breathe out again (nose if possible), pause… then continue what you were doing.
Click here for the webinar interview on Top tips on how to self regulate during times of stress and debunking some breathing myths with BradCliff's Tania Clifton-Smith, Dr Sven Hansen and Brad Hook, Resilience Institute International.
If you are anxious of worried -
"When in doubt Breathe out".
Our famous motto – breathing out calms the mind and sends a message to our brain everything is OK.
For more help, see a BRADCLIFF practitioner.
They are highly skilled practitioners in breathing pattern disorders/breathing dysfunction. Most are available on telehealth as well as clinically under normal circumstances.