Respiratory health can improve immunity in a COVID-19 world and beyond…

Anxiety and stress makes us breathe more rapidly and shallowly. We tend to hold our breaths, which leads to engaging and freezing our muscles such as our abdominal muscles, pectoral muscles of the chest, and our diaphragm. A lot of people begin breathing through their mouths because it feels more efficient and requires less effort than nose breathing.

A lifestyle of prolonged sitting also makes it difficult to fully engage the diaphragm and abdomen because of postural restrictions. Working on the computer means our neck, shoulder, and chest muscles are already engaged which means they naturally take over our breathing leading to breathing that perpetuates the fight or flight parts of our nervous system. 

When we start to decondition this process and train ourselves into the active Rest, Digest, and Repair state, we are also activating and optimizing our immune system which is a huge component of our digestive system.

Common conditions that can occur when breathing through the mouth:

  • Irritable bowel syndrome
  • hypertension,
  • tiredness
  • anxiety & panic attacks
  • asthma & emphysema
  • dysmenorrhea
  • epilepsy,
  • cold hands and feet
  • insomnia

Tips for Breathing Health:

Remember that just like training other muscles of your body, breathing in a different way can feel difficult or unnatural at first, but that with practice it becomes more natural and easy, and in this case, healthier.

Breath through your nose:

  1. Exhale to the count of 5 or 6
  2. Allow automatic inhale for a count of 4 or 5
  3. Make sure that your ribs and abdomen lower during inhalation and decrease a bit during exhalation.
  4. Check in with your neck and shoulders that they are relaxed. We often engage these breathing “accessory” muscles when we breathing anxiously because our bodies are engaged in a “fight/flight” stance.

Take the challenge on! Practice breathing health and see how you can improve your immunity. If you’d like a more comprehensive training in breathing because you have the above symptoms and would like to see if changing your breathing patterns can mitigate them, consider scheduling a Biofeedback visit.

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