New Year’s resolutions are huge this time of year. The common ones are losing weight, eating healthy and exercising more – which are probably valid for 90% of the population.
But I want to propose something less arduous that really hones in on your health and may need to come before any changes to your diet and lifestyle.
Sitting may be the new smoking BUT research is showing that chronic stress can lead to early death from heart disease, cancer and other health problems. AND deep abdominal breathing can turn stress around by communicating to every cell in your body that you are safe and that it can relax.
Deep breathing moves you from the sympathetic ‘flight or fight’ response to the parasympathetic ‘rest & digest’ response.
Whether real or perceived, stress releases the hormones adrenalin and cortisol.
Adrenalin is your short-term fight or flight hormone which tells every cell in your body that your life is under threat and it:
- Moves blood to your arms & legs so you can run away! This means digestion goes on the back burner.
- Releases glucose so you have energy for your run. As a result, your blood glucose levels go UP. Increased blood glucose triggers INSULIN to now store fat.
- Increases BP and pulse.
- Makes your immune system take a back seat because fighting for your life is more important than fighting an infection.
- Down-regulates reproduction because your body does not see the world as ‘safe’ to bring a baby into right now.
Cortisol is your long term stress hormone and in the right amounts it:
- Is an anti-inflammatory hormone that stops your body from feeling stiff & rigid.
- Helps you burn body fat for energy.
- Helps you maintain stable blood glucose levels.
- Is designed to be highest in the morning so you bounce out of bed.
- Levels slowly drop during the day so you are tired and ready to sleep by the evening.
Continual stress means that cortisol tells every cell in your body that food is scarce and we need to store fat. It’s actually very difficult to release weight when cortisol in hanging around.
So, if losing weight is at the top of your 2020 to-do list AND stress is rife in your life then consider deep breathing.
This is how you move your body into the parasympathetic nervous system.
Yep, it’s that simple.
Deep breathing tells every cell in your body that you are safe.
Safe to heal, safe to release weight and safe to get on with optimising your health.
Places you can practice deep breathing:
- Before you get out of bed
- While you are in the shower
- Before you eat
- Waiting at the lights
- When you go to bed
Find some triggers or cues that remind you to do this simple practice every day.