Vesagas: How to perform breathing relaxation techniques

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Tuesday, December 10, 2013

OFTENTIMES the bustling city life not only depletes us of our energy but also induces different sorts of stress that we have to deal with.

These kinds of stress may range from waking at the wrong side of the bed in the morning and may extend to simple family quarrels at the dining table at night.

Stress, at the minimum, is not really pathologic in nature: we need a modicum of stress to keep us going, motivated and inspired to reach for our goals.

However, when all the different stresses build up, we feel overburdened.

In terms of physiologic functioning, chronic or long-term stress has ill effects on our health.

According to Priscila B Dizon and associates, psychologists and authors of the ‘General Psychology: A textbook for College Students,’ when people react to stresses with fear, the brain sends danger messages to the body [and] raise blood pressure and prepare the muscles for quick action.

“Research shows that the brain can release hormones and other chemicals that affect white blood cells and other parts of the immune system,” they state.

“Though the chemicals also have other functions, they are a link between our thoughts and our ability to resist disease.”

These ill effects may be manifested as simple headaches, feeling nauseated, palpitations and increased breathing or respiratory rate.

In sum, if you fail to handle stress, your body is doomed to illness as it weakens the immune system.

Let me share an instructional health teaching guide that I’ve culled out and then paraphrased from ‘Managing Chronic Disorders.’

It shares the following simple breathing techniques to help you cope with stress or pain.

First, you need to close your eyes and then inhale slowly and deeply through your nose as you count silently: “In, 2, 3, 4.”

Notice how your stomach expands first, then your rib cage, and then finally your upper chest.

Next is too exhale slowly through your mouth as you count silently: “Out, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6.”

Pretend as if you’re breathing out through a straw to lengthen exhalation. Let your shoulders drop slightly as your upper chest, rib cage and stomach gently deflate.

Repeat this exercise four to five times.

Next step is to inhale for four seconds.

Hold your breath for the count of four, but do not strain.

Lastly, exhale through your mouth for six to eight seconds.

Practice this exercise four to five times.

I have personally tried this and I found it fairly effective.

If resources and circumstances permit, you may modify your environment to achieve total relaxation.

You may choose to turn on the air conditioner, dim the lights and switch off all devices that could distract you in this solitary activity.

You may also use incense if you are comfortable with its scent.

Scented candles with essential oil may also be a good option but you to make sure to find a safe spot for it.

At start you may feel sleepy or drowsy.

This is normal.

But, you should not give in to the urge as you may condition your mind to fall asleep if you do and that might defeat the purpose of this exercise.

In general, there are only a few hard and fast rules to relaxation.

The truth is, each one of us can devise his or her own relaxation techniques.

If this technique does not work with you, you may try to find the right ones that would and there is nothing wrong with you.

After all, what we after is relaxation: not another form of stress to hurdle.


Published in the Sun.Star Cagayan de Oro newspaper on December 10, 2013.


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