Have your anxiety levels begun to skyrocket with the holidays on the horizon? You’re not alone. The holidays bring with it a myriad of demands on top of the demands of everyday life - from gift giving and party throwing (and attending) to an influx of family and relatively less time for self and peace and quiet.
Our number one way to kick that unwanted anxiety out to the curb is free and easy to do no matter where you are. Breathing practices can help both rev you up for enhanced performance and help you down regulate to ease stress and anxiety as well as help you to sleep.
The first step is learning to breath through your nose. For those of you who have taken my classes you know I have been preaching this for quite some time. More and more attention is being given to nose breathing. In fact, the NY Times just published an article about nose breathing and its link to better brain functioning, specifically memory. In addition to memory, nose breathing sends a direct signal to the nervous system cueing it to stay calm. In this state, the body can repair, regenerate and digest optimally. Nose breathing is also one of the top defenses against colds and flus. The nose acts as a filter and ensures the air in the lungs is warm and moist which means healthier lungs and greater O2 distribution. To top it all off, nose breathing will allow for the accumulation of nitric oxide in sinuses and all the benefits associated with this. What are these benefits you ask? Nitric oxide is very effective at opening airways and capillaries for great O2 transport to muscle, brain, heart, etc. It also works as an antimicrobial and antibacterial agent to fight potential health invaders. Bottom line? The nose was designed to do most of our breathing - specifically for health and physical performance purposes. Mouth breathing is a back up for emergency cases (including high intensity activities).
For a quick de-stressor in moments of overwhelm and anxiety, try these exercises:
Breathe in through your nose for 4 counts, hold for 4 counts, exhale through the nose for 4 counts, then hold for 4 counts. Repeat. This is also known as box breathing. You can adjust the timing of this breathing as you become more practiced. for example, increase all counts to 5 or up to 10.
Breathe in through the nose for 4 counts, hold for 7 counts, exhale through the nose for 8 counts.
Interested in learning more breathing techniques? Join me and Fatima in January at Nine River Road in the Catskills for a truly restorative weekend. We will be taking a much deeper dive into breath work and mobility practices geared towards redefining age and cultivating a bullet proof, resilient, lean and strong body. For more info and to sign up, see HERE. Don’t wait, space is limited!