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Improved recovery

Stress and your health

Stress is the state of being unable to cope with mental or emotional pressure which transforms into the feeling of emotional or physical tension. Breath training is proven to help.

Author: Sean Coakley, Master breathing instructor

NOTE: Airofit is not suggesting or claiming we can cure stress or remove the need to medical guidance, but as mentioned above the power of breath can bring amazing change and we are doing all we can to help everyone #StayABreathAhead

Stress is the state of being unable to cope with mental or emotional pressure which transforms into the feeling of emotional or physical tension. It is often triggered when we feel that we have little control over a situation. In other words It’s our body's reaction to a challenge, demand or even something new that’s happening to us.

It is also important to mention that even though we tend to think of stress as a negative factor, in reality it is not exactly like this. Stress is an integral part of our life and it has some positive effects too. Without stress, we might feel less motivated, and if we're pushing our life forward, stress will always be a part of that and will make our lives more fun. And as soon as you reach some goals you were aiming for or you’ve completed some activities you feel happy about, you will ultimately feel the excitement and so called “good” stress.

Stress can also help us to strengthen our social connections which are the key to our general well-being and mental health as humans are social creatures.

Stress types:

Stress types

Acute Stress

This is short-term stress that goes away quickly. We normally experience it when we for example have an argument with our friend or take a ride at a rolla-coaster. It helps us to manage dangerous or critical situations in the short term. It also occurs when you do something new or face some unexpected situation.

Episodic acute stress

In case you are experiencing acute stress frequently then you might be exposed to the episodic acute stress which can affect your physical health and general wellbeing. This happens if you’re often worried that things might go wrong. You might also feel that your life is lacking stability. Particular professions, such as for example lifeguards or paramedics, might also lead to a daily stress overload.

Chronic stress

This is stress that lasts for a significantly longer period of time. You may experience chronic stress if you for example have long-lasting family issues or ongoing overload at work. Any type of stress that goes on for weeks or months is chronic stress. People experiencing chronic stress for a long period of time get used to it and often do not realize it to be a problem. If you don't find ways to cope with long-lasting stress, it may lead to serious health problems.

There can be different causes of stress, such as:

  • Working in a dangerous profession
  • Having little work-life balance, working long hours, or having a job you don’t like
  • Experiencing military deployment
  • Living with chronic illness
  • Surviving a life-threatening accident or illness
  • Being the victim of a crime, etc.

Stress and your body

Stress and your body

While finding ourselves in a stressful situation, our body tries to protect us and reacts to stress by releasing hormones. These hormones make our brain more alert, cause your muscles to tense, and increase your pulse.

In case it's short-term stress, these reactions are good because they can help you handle the situation causing stress.

But in case of chronic stress, your body stays alert far longer than is necessary for survival, even though there is no danger, which might put you at risk for health problems and overall affect your general well-being.

Symptoms of chronic stress include:

  • High blood pressure
  • Obesity
  • Depression or anxiety
  • Skin problems, such as acne or eczema
  • Menstrual problems
  • Heart disease
  • Diabetes
  • Irritability

Signs of too much stress

Stress can cause many types of physical and emotional symptoms.

Stress affects the multiple symptoms of the human body, such as Central nervous and endocrine systems, Muscular system, Respiratory and cardiovascular systems, Sexuality and reproductive system, Digestive system, immune system. Therefore sometimes, you may not realize the symptoms you have are caused by stress.

Here are some signs that stress may be affecting you:

  • Diarrhea or constipation
  • Forgetfulness
  • Frequent aches and pains
  • Headaches
  • Lack of energy or focus
  • Sexual problems
  • Stiff jaw or neck
  • Tiredness

Natural ways of dealing with stress

Natural ways of dealing with stress

You can’t avoid stress, but you can manage it or stop it from becoming overwhelming by practicing some daily strategies. In order to manage your stress, first you have to identify the things that cause you stress. Figure out which of these things can be avoided. Then, find ways to cope with those triggers that can’t be avoided:

  • Exercise regularly or when you feel symptoms of stress coming on.
  • Have a short walk during your working day. 30 minutes of fresh air will help you change the picture and get back the focus.
  • Have a healthy diet.
  • At the end of each day, take a moment to think about what you’ve accomplished — not what you didn’t get done.
  • Set goals for your day, week and month. Learn to say “no” to additional responsibilities when you are too busy or stressed.
  • Stay positive and practice gratitude, acknowledging the good parts of your day or life. Try to have 7-8 hours of sleep each night.
  • Stay socially connected so you can get and give support. Stay in touch with people who keep you calm, make you happy.
  • Make time for rest or self-care.
  • Try relaxation activities, such as meditation, yoga, tai chi, breathing exercises and muscle relaxation.

If you can’t manage your stress, or if it’s accompanied by anxiety or depression, see your doctor right away.

Can breath work help?

Can breath work help?

Deep breathing is one of the best ways to relax. 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 the whole 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.

There are lots of breathing exercises you can do to help relax.The first exercise below—belly breathing—is simple to learn and easy to do. It's best to start there if you have never done breathing exercises before. The other exercises are more advanced.

Belly breathing
Belly breathing is easy to do and very relaxing. Try this basic exercise anytime you need to relax or relieve stress.

  • Sit or lie flat in a comfortable position.
  • Put one hand on your belly just below your ribs and the other hand on your chest.
  • Take a deep breath in through your nose, and let your belly push your hand out. Your chest should not move.
  • Breathe out through pursed lips as if you were whistling. Feel the hand on your belly go in, and use it to push all the air out.
  • Do this breathing 3 to 10 times. Take your time with each breath.
  • Notice how you feel at the end of the exercise.

Next steps
After you have mastered belly breathing, you may want to try one of these more advanced breathing exercises, such as coherent breathing. Here are the basics on how to perform coherent breathing:

  • Lie down and close your eyes.
  • Gently breathe in through your nose, mouth closed, for a count of 6 seconds Don’t fill your lungs too full of air.
  • Exhale for 6 seconds, allowing your breath to leave your body slowly and gently. Don’t force it.
  • Continue for up to 10 minutes.
  • Take a few additional minutes to be still and focus on how your body feels.

Airofit training

Airofit's Freedom session

Airofit's Freedom session

Airofit's Mindfulness session

Airofit's Mindfulness session

Gaining control of your breath is a positive step in helping alleviate stress, anxiety and depression. Airofit provides a simple and easy way to interact with your breathing. Simply follow the instructions in our easy to use app and you will begin to meditate (remove mental distraction) without even realizing it. Also, when working with our device you naturally pay more attention to how your breath enters and exits the body bringing a deeper awareness and helping you slow down, bringing balance and positive energy with every breath.

Research: Breath training + stress and anxiety

#StayABreathAhead

SEAN COAKLEY
Author:

SEAN COAKLEY

Sean has 25+ years of experience in breath training. His background in nutritional sciences and epidemiology allows him to have a scientific insight in...

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