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Unaddressed chronic stress can put not only your general health and well-being at risk, but can also sabotage your weight loss goals. 

Chronic stress is toxic to your body. Persistently high levels of cortisol and fight or flight hormones can lead to mood disorders, digestive issues, headaches and sleep disturbances.

Our bodies are effective at dealing with acute, short lived stressors. The chronic daily stress, however, can make your body feel constantly under attack, putting your body in a heightened state of alert; a problem in our modern day society. 

I think it is important to to understand what is happening in our body when we are stressed, to put in perspective why we need to address this problem.

Your central nervous system is like the hardware and software that runs your computer. Your CPU is your brain and the wires and devices that connect to it are like the nerves that connect your brain to the organs in your body.  The central nervous system has a negative feedback loop to maintain homeostatic balance in heart rate and blood pressure when interacting with the environment. Your heart races when you are scared and slows down when you calm down. 

The sympathetic nervous system is your accelerator and parasympathetic nervous system is like the brakes. Stress presses the accelerator and relaxation puts on the brakes. The better you come at controlling that brake, the more resilient your nervous system becomes – the better your health.

Over time, with constant stimulation (stress), the feedback loop become less sensitive – this is the case with chronic stress, leaving it less resilient. 

One way to tap into the parasympathetic nervous system is by directly stimulating the parasympathetic nervous system. More specifically, you can stimulate the parasympathetic nervous system through the vagus nerve, by performing deep, slow breathing techniques – breath-work.

Breath-work, is in fact, a simple and scientifically proven way to slow your breathing, which in turn calms the nervous system.

A study out of Brigham and Young reports that Resonance Frequency (RF) breathing is more effective than other breathing techniques in maximizing Heart Rate Variability (HRV), a key biomarker indicating how you’re responding to the environment. HRV is the variation in time intervals between heart beats. And, greater fluctuations in the interval between beats indicate a healthy balance in our nervous system and an ability to respond to physiological needs. 

A higher HRV indicates a healthier heart, resilience to stress and better overall healthy functioning. In contrast, a lower HRV, suggests less responsiveness to physiological needs, predicts higher mortality and can indicate a general anxiety disorder, depression or chronic stress. A lower HRV indicates sympathetic dominance.

Essentially, in resonant breathing, breath rate is slowed to about 6 breaths per minute and the point that optimizes HRV. Normally we breath 12 to 20 per minute, so essentially this is cutting that in half. Resonance frequency breathing works by increasing vagus nerve tone which controls the  parasympathetic nervous system and HRV. 

Deep breathing helps you to practice that braking mechanism in your body that helps to control the relaxation response. The more you practice, the stronger this mechanism becomes!

Here is the best way to directly improve the state of your nervous system, HRV and better handle stress that comes your way!

Resonant Frequency (RF) breathing….

  1. Start by sitting or lying down comfortably.

  1. Breath in through your nose and fill your chest with air, allow the abdomen to relax and expand and slowly exhale through pursed lips emptying your chest.

  1. Focus on the breath breathing in for 4 seconds and exhaling for 6 seconds

Benefits of Resonant breathing:

  1. Can lower blood pressure, by lowering heart rate as you are breathing slowly.

  1. Helps to control anxiety by decreasing heart rate and increasing the parasympathetic nervous system which has a relaxing effect on your mind and body.

  1. Stimulates the vagus nerve which is believed to promote a calm mind, helping body and mind heal. Can help with some disease states, such as leaky gut.

  1. Emotional and mood control being able to control your breath and heart rate can help when you are emotionally triggered by something. Can help you control your response to situations throughout the day.

  1. Minimize the effect that stress has on your state of mind.


 

Favorite Apps for Breath-work and Meditation

 
 
 

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