Our breathing can be a powerful tool to influence pain and stress. Learn in this blog which exercises can help you in the basics and where you can learn more about breathing.
We never really think about it that much...
Our breathing goes by itself. We often don't stand still so happily, even though breathing has a major impact on our lives. Most problems arise when we breathe too fast.
When we exercise it is normal to breathe faster, our body needs more oxygen. Unfortunately, due to pain and/or stress, we also breathe faster - while the muscles don't need it.
The result of breathing too fast
The rapid breathing unfortunately has many negative consequences for your body. Breathing fast causes your whole body to move more into the 'action mode'. If this continues for too long, the body builds up stress - as if your body is always on.
The brain reacts to this as well, especially by staying active. You can notice this by constantly grinding and feeling restless.
Pain and stress can cause you to breathe faster. But, because of the fast breathing, your pain and stress system goes even further. This creates a negative spiral.
Breaking through the negative spiral
One way to break this negative spiral may be breathing itself. For centuries people have been doing exercises that can give relaxation and calm the mind. The following three exercises you can try for yourself - to see which one you like. If you like an exercise, you can do it daily for a while to notice the effect. At the bottom of this blog you will also find a webinar by Koen de Jong and me. In the webinar Koen tells more about pain and breathing.
Exercise 1: Focus on breathing
The first exercise seems easy, but is quite spicy. Breathe at your own pace, and focus your attention on the area near the nose. See if you can feel the air flow in and out. You may even notice a difference in temperature when breathing in and out! The usefulness of this exercise? Focusing on the breath often calms it down, but you also train your brain to become less distracted - an exercise in mindfulness!
Exercise 2: Pause
This exercise is more focused on relaxing. Breathe in and out normally. After exhaling, wait a little while to breathe in. Not so long that it becomes uncomfortable (you should be able to breathe normally again). With this exercise you build up more carbon dioxide than oxygen. It brings your body and mind more into the relaxed mode.
Exercise 3: Breathe out slowly
If you don't like exercise 2, there is an alternative. Breathe in normally, but slowly out through the mouth. By 'spouting' your mouth a little, this is easier. The effect is the same as with exercise 2, so you work on relaxation. Some people like this exercise more than the second exercise.