In our continuing series, La Jolla Sports Club offers up some ideas on how to deal with the holiday stress. Hint: Breathe.
In case you missed last week’s award-winning* post, we discussed the healing powers of meditation. In our continuing series dealing with stress, this week we’re going to tackle something you’re already doing: breathing.
According to the University of Michigan (sorry, Justin and Maxx) School of Medicine:
[Deep] breathing is one of the best ways to lower stress in the body. This is because when you breathe deeply, it sends a message to your brain to calm down and relax. The brain then sends this message to your body. Those things that happen when you are stressed, such as increased heart rate, fast breathing, and high blood pressure, all decrease as you breathe deeply to relax.
Look at that! You don’t have to really do anything except to remember to breathe! Yeah, you ask, so why am I even reading this? Well, we have a few ideas to help increase your breathing performance and decrease your stress, and they are incredibly easy.
The easiest one to pull off is called diaphragmatic breathing, otherwise known as ‘belly breathing.’ verywellhealth has a verylongpost on this, but we can knock it out for you right here:
- Lay down
- Put your hands on your chest and your belly
- Breathe deeply through your nose and into your belly
- Your chest should not move
- Exhale through pursed lips (like you’re whistling)
- Belly breathe 3-10x and notice how you feel afterward
Diaphragmatic breathing is a great way to help calm you down and reduce stress. Note: Once you get the hang of the feeling, belly breathing can be achieved sitting up or standing, so no need to lay down in traffic or in front of the boss’s desk.
La Jolla Sports Club Personal Trainer, Kevin Root, turned us on to this one from a recent conference. It goes as such:
- Exhale completely through your mouth, making an audible whooshing sound
- Close your mouth and inhale quietly through your nose to a mental count of four
- Utilize the diaphragmatic / belly breathing
- Hold your breath for a count of seven
- Exhale completely through your mouth, making the audible whoosh to a count of eight
- This is one breath. Now inhale again and repeat the cycle three more times for a total of four breaths.
While you’re getting used to the technique, stick to four breaths total and then expand to eight breaths total when you’re a pro. Regardless of how many breaths, do your best to maintain the 4-7-8 ratio (for instance if you had to shorten it: 2-3.5-4). This is a wildly helpful tool to help battle stress and preemptively shut down negative reactions. And if you’re lying awake in the middle of the night with the hamster wheel cranking, try this breathing to get you back to sleep.
Postural Restoration (PRI) Breathing
La Jolla Sports Club Personal Trainer, Carl Israelsson, is going to be your go-to for this one. Besides having the best beard in the gym, Carl is our PRI breathing guru and definitely walks the walk. While the balloon breathing might look… interesting (?), it’s a great tool for helping with postural issues, as Carl will definitely attest to. Here’s a little sample:
Just kidding, we don’t recommend you ‘serenity now,’ we just love an excuse to include a Seinfeld reference.
OK, that’s it for us for 2018! If you celebrate Christmas, have a great one, and for all of our LJSCers, have an amazing, safe and fun New Year’s!
// See you in 2019, your friends at La Jolla Sports Club
*one of our members really liked it