Breathing Exercises can lower your blood pressure, reduce your heart rate and calm your nervous system.
Some breathing exercises can also help with the hyperventilation symptoms (shortness of breath, gasping), which are common for adrenal fatigue and chronic stress.
However, you may have already discovered that some breathing exercises can actually increase anxiety or cause light headedness. There is a reason this happens.
It works in both directions. Stress can affect your breath. But your breath can also affect your level of stress.
When your nervous system is in a state of stress, there are many changes that occur within your the body. Your heart rate increases, pupils dilate, blood vessels constrict, and many other changes occur.
The connection between your breath and stress works in both directions.
During stress, your breathing rate increases, becomes more shallow, and you breathe from your upper lungs, which is called thoracic breathing, or chest breathing.
Luckily, the connection between the nervous system and your breath also works in reverse.
Your breathe is one of the bridges you have available to control your nervous system.
Your method of breathing tells your nervous system whether you are stressed or relaxed.
The breathing techniques covered in this section have been proven to calm the nervous system. Proper breathing exercises can be an important...and free...part of your adrenal fatigue treatment plan.
Diaphragmatic breathing should be employed not only during relaxation breathing exercises, but at all times, including sitting at your desk, driving, at a movie, reading a book, etc.
With diaphragmatic / abdominal breathing, your belly moves in and out. Your chest does not move.
Breathing for relaxation will not be effective with chest breathing.
Recent studies have shown many health benefits from Diaphragmatic Breathing (DB). DB has been shown to increase activity of the parasympathetic nervous system (the calm side), reduce oxidative stress, reduce hyper-glycemia, improves heart rate variability, reduce blood pressure and reduce heart rate 1, 2, 3, 4.
Chest breathing is what we do when under stress. When we are experiencing stress, our breath becomes rapid, shallow and limited to the chest.
And since the mind-body connection also works in reverse, chest breathing stimulates the stressed side of the nervous system (sympathetic nervous system)5, thereby creating stress. Breathing for relaxation will not be effective with chest breathing.
During exhalation, the nervous system leans towards the relaxed side (parasympathetic nervous system). If you are in a relaxed state, you can even notice this in your pulse, which should slow a little when you exhale.
If you intentionally try to
Let Go while exhaling,
it tilts the nervous system even more towards the calm side.
Letting go can be pictured different ways. You can picture it like your shoulders and arms and the rest of your body are going limp or that you are like melting butter .
You can also say to yourself quietly and slowly 'Caaaalm' or 'Relaaaax' during each exhalation. This will increase the effectiveness of all breathing techniques, and help with anxiety reduction.
You can do this while at your desk, in a movie, at a stop light.....anywhere.
All breathing techniques are essentially a form of meditation. By focusing on your breath to make sure it is slow and rhythmic, you are practicing Concentration Meditation.
And you will also undoubtedly catch your mind drifting and will need to bring it back to your breath, which is training you in mindfulness meditation. You are training yourself to watch the patterns of your mind.
Any form of meditation is very helpful for adrenal fatigue treatment.
In addition to relaxation breathing exercises, you may also obtain great benefit from reviewing our meditation pages .
If you squeeze in breathing exercises whenever you can, it will be very helpful for calming your nervous system and reducing anxiety.
They are an important tool in your adrenal fatigue treatment tool box.
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